There’s nothing quite like spending summer wading through bleach-white, sandy beaches in your flip-flops. As a matter of fact, flip-flops are synonymous with summer time. After all, who takes a trip down the Shore without sunblock, sunglasses, a great book and yes, your flip-flops? And while it’s easy to see why flip-flops are popular, they’re light-weight and super easy to throw on and off, are flip-flops actually bad for your health?
Well the truth is that they can be, because they put you at risk for foot problems, back pain and other health issues. But even flip-flops can be worn more responsibly and in so doing, mitigate some of the health risks.
What Are The Risks of Wearing Flip-Flops
The good news is that wearing flip-flops is better than going barefoot, since they cover the bottoms of your feet. But, here’s the bad news about flip-flops.
- Flip-flops are bad for your knees. Flip-flops do not provide sufficient arch and heel support, so joints have to compensate because your knees, hips and back are not properly aligned. This could lead to injuries such as Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, shooting pains in your feet and up your legs and pinched back nerves. This means that yes, flip-flops cause chronic pain in some wearers.
- The way flip-flops are designed also means that they stay on because you grip them with your toes. This puts unnatural strain on your heel, which cause heel pain and repetitive stress on your ankles and toes.
- In addition to flip-flop injuries, flip-flops can cause or exacerbate bacterial growth, blisters, bunions, athlete’s foot and viral infections.
- Flip-flops result in bad posture too and may even permanently change your gait. When wearing flip-flops, your natural stride is shortened and you are more prone to tripping. In turn, bad posture and poor stride can have a detrimental affect on the rest of your body.
- Many flip-flops contain latex, to which many people possess an allergy. Flip-flops are also made with BPA plastic, which is toxic to anyone, regardless of allergies.
How To Wear Summer Footwear Safely
There are ways to mitigate potential injuries and foot pain after wearing flip-flops. If you are going to wear flip-flops, take the following precautions.
- Try to wear flip-flops for only short periods of time – like short walks on the beach, at the pool, or in locker rooms. Do not play sports in them or stand in them for a long time.
- Replace your flip-flops at least once every three or four months, like you might a toothbrush.
- Purchase higher quality, soft leather flip flops, which cause less irritation. Better yet, find sandals that have been approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association.
- Wear properly fitted flip-flops. Your heels and toes should not be hanging off the edges.
- When you bend your flip-flops (end-to-end), they should bend at the ball of the foot, not the arch.
- Never drive when wearing flip-flops. This can be highly dangerous, not just for you, but for everyone else sharing the roads. Similarly to most backless shoes, flip-flops can easily slip off your feet and get lodged under the gas or brake pedals. In fact, the risk of this is even higher than most backless shoes, due to the lightweight construction of flip-flops.
Staying Healthy: Not Necessarily a Huge Feat
People often forget how connected the different parts of the body are. Good posture and good footwear go a long way to preventing injury, not only to your feet and legs, but to your back, hips, knees and tendons. Flip-flops influence the stability and fundamental health of all of these moving parts and their interconnections to one another.
That’s why the NJ spine and orthopedic doctors at IGEA Brain and Spine recommend that you treat your feet right this summer. Having the proper footwear, combined with moderate use, shouldn’t compromise your ability to enjoy your summer.