Are flip-flops and sandals bad for my feet?
Jason Lake, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert, Ariz. He can be reached at (480) 964-2908.
Question: One of the great things about living in Arizona is that I get to wear flip-flops and sandals most of the year. Is that bad for my feet?
Answer: While flip-flops and sandals offer your feet relief from the heat and are convenient to take on and off, they can lead to problems with your feet if not worn in moderation.
Many types of flip-flops and sandals lack the cushion and support that are provided by other types of shoes.
Overuse of flip-flops or sandals may lead to inflammation of the Achilles tendon, heel and arch. Heel calluses may form from the lack of cushion. They may crack and become painful in the dry desert climate.
If the heel of the sandal is tall enough, this may increase your risk for developing hammer toes.
Additionally, if not properly cleaned, fungal infections may arise.
In my practice, I tend to see more patients presenting with these ailments in the warmer months when patients admittedly tend to wear more flip-flops and sandals. I also frequently see patients after a vacation where they spent an extended period of time walking in flip-flops or sandals.
You can reduce your risk of foot pain by using more supportive shoes for walking and by alternating between shoes and flip-flops or sandals for routine use.
If you insist on flip-flops or sandals for convenience or because your walking shoes don’t look as cute as your sandals, try to find a pair with adequate cushion and a supportive arch. Also, try to limit the heel of the sandal to less than two inches.
Reviewed February 2011