As the temperatures rise and the weather begins to heat up, many will stay cool by slipping on a pair of their favorite flip-flops. Whether you are hitting the beach or simply walking around town, flip-flops are often our selected footwear of choice for those hot, summer months. Unfortunately, wearing flip-flops can lead to painful foot ailments, including cuts and abrasions, broken toes, and painful sprains. The flip-flops that are widely purchased today can be extremely unsafe for your feet.
Some flip-flops can be cushioned, which lead people to believe that they are good for your feet, but most offer little to no arch support. Flip-flops can also be very flimsy, which causes them to break down quickly. Shoes that do not offer proper arch support can lead to biomechanical abnormalities starting when the heel strikes the ground. This, in turn, can lead to pain felt in the joints of your foot and ankle, as well as in the knees, hips, lower back, shoulders, and neck. If you are to wear flip-flops, wear them with caution and in moderation. It is important to assess how long you can wear flip-flops on an individual basis and to be aware of the effects they can have on your body.
Tension for Your Toes
Wearing flip-flops may feel like the next best thing to going barefoot, but your feet are working a lot harder than you may realize. By wearing flip-flops, you are forcing a change in your walking stride. With each step you take, your toes pull down on the shoe to stabilize the foot against the ground because your foot has to work harder to keep the flip-flop on. Forcing your toes to act in this unnatural manner can cause toe pain and even stubbed toes.
Problematic Heel Pain
It is estimated by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons that about 15 percent of all adult foot injuries involve plantar fasciitis, which is an awful pain caused by the overstretching of a tendon in your heel called the plantar fascia. By wearing flip-flops, you are increasing your risk of developing heel pain. While many people don’t want to give up flip-flops, it's important to understand that if you are going to the beach, wear them! However, if you are going to the mall or even an amusement park, don’t wear them.
Wear the Right Shoes for Your Activity
When choosing footwear for summer, or vacation, it is important to follow these guidelines for healthy feet:
- Shoes should be lightweight and ventilated.
- Have an extra pair of shoes and alternate between them daily so that each pair has a chance to dry out completely.
- Wear socks that are made of an acrylic fiber, not cotton, as acrylic draws moisture away from the feet.
- Change your socks at least once a day.
Flip-flops should not be worn as everyday shoes—they are meant for the beach and the pool, not for everyday walking. Wearing flip-flops for an occasional stroll may be fine, but you should never overdo it.
If you feel pain in your foot or ankle, visit your podiatrist for further diagnosis and treatment. You can prevent painful foot conditions and injuries by wearing appropriate footwear and avoiding flip-flops.