Flip-flops are easy to slip on, often cheap to purchase and ubiquitous both at the beach and on city streets. But they’re one of the worst things you can wear on your feet. The folks at Topical BioMedics, which deals in pain relief, offer the following insights into why flip-flops should remain on the beach, and not be seen as everyday footwear.
• Most flip-flops offer no arch support. In fact, continuous walking them may cause the calf muscle to stretch, straining the Achilles tendon. Regularly wearing shoes without support can hurt your knees, hips and back.
• Because flip flops are thin and flimsy, feet hit the ground with more intensity, which is more jarring to bones and joints.
• Flip-flops and other backless shoes cause toes to “over grip” in order to keep them on your feet; this can throw your gait and balance off kilter, greatly increasing the risk of tripping.
• Flip-flops can aggravate deformities such as bunions and hammertoes, and contribute to plantar fasciitis.
• The thin rubber thong between the toes causes friction, which can result in irritation, blisters and abrasions between the toes that may become susceptible to infection. Diabetics should be particularly wary of wearing flip-flops if they have disease-related neuropathy because they won’t be able to feel any irritation until there is a significant problem.
• Flip-flops leave feet totally exposed, making cuts and scrapes more likely. In addition, their thin soles are easily punctured by shards of glass, nails, splinters and so on.
• Flip-flops’ rubber soles are porous, which makes them a breeding ground for funguses, bacteria, and other germs. This can lead to athlete’s foot, warts and other problems.
• When it comes to easy and breezy summer shoes, sandals would be a better choice. But if you insist on flip-flops, be sure to invest in a good, well-constructed, quality pair that offers support. Look for a pair with orthotic foot beds.
Other footwear can also get you in trouble. For instance:
• Ballet flats: Their flat soles present the same problems as flip-flops in terms of lack of support.
• Sneakers without socks: The right athletic shoe offers great support and comfort. But keep your socks on or you’ll create an environment that’s friendly to breeding bacteria.
• Rubber or plastic clogs: This popular style of shoe is not meant for long-term, real-world wear. Unless you have purchased a name-brand expensive pair, your feet may be in for all kinds of bacteria/fungus issues. As well, individuals wearing soft-soled clogs — especially children — have been known to get their toes caught in escalators, and suffered significant injuries.