During the summer, flip-flops and sandals are a staple. They are lightweight, easy to throw on and off and keep your feet cool in warm temperatures. But, could flip-flops be bad for your health?
Banner Health podiatrist, Joseph Dobrusin, DPM, weighs in on some of the dangers caused by flip-flops.
Protect Your Feet
“Your flip-flops may be airy and nice, but they provide you inferior environmental protection, which can open you up to injury,” Dr. Dobrusin says.
Many flip-flops are thin and flimsy. It’s easy for glass, rocks, thorns and other dangerous objects on the ground to poke through or get into the flip-flop. Not only this, but flip-flops also expose your feet to dangerous bacteria.
According to a report from the “TODAY” show and the University of Miami, 18,000 bacteria, including fecal matter and Staphylococcus aureus, often call flip-flops home.
Your Feet and Ankle Don’t Lie … And Neither Will the Rest of Your Body
“Studies have shown that flip-flops can actually change the way you walk, because you carry your foot differently than you would in supportive shoes,” Dr. Dobrusin says. “This can throw off your gait and create a host of other problems for the rest of your body.”
Flip-flops do not provide sufficient arch and heel support, which can cause you to over pronate and over use the muscles in your feet as you try to grip the flimsy material. This can lead to injuries such as Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia or pain on the ball of the foot.
Dr. Dobrusin treats many patients who return from vacations suffering from heel and arch pain, and what he’s found is that many were wearing only flip-flops or sandals in lieu of a good pair of shoes.
You’ll Feel It in Your Bones
“Excessive stress on your feet due to lack of proper support can also cause stress fractures,” Dr. Dobrusin cautions.
Without any shock absorption or cushioning, the bones of your feet will have repetitive trauma. Standing or walking too long in flip-flops can cause tiny cracks and/or stress fractures.
But Let’s be Honest
Even knowing how bad flip-flops can be for your feet, you probably won’t stop wearing them. So, here are a few tips from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) to help you avoid a flip-flop fiasco:
- Look for sandals made of soft leather to minimize irritation and blisters.
- Do the bend test: ensure it bends at the ball of the foot and not the arch.
- Replace them every three to four months, like a toothbrush.
- Purchase flip-flops and sandals that hold the APMA’s Seal of Acceptance.
If are suffering foot or toe pain, visit bannerhealth.com to find a Banner Health podiatrist in your area.