With the weather getting warmer, it’s easy to throw on a pair of flip flops and head out the door. These sandals are cute, come in so many styles and colors, are easy to wear, keep your feet cool, and seem comfortable.
But there is a downside to wearing flip flops, which unlike sturdy shoes aren't good for extensive walking because they offer no arch support, heel cushioning, or shock absorption, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
This means that flip flops can contribute to a variety of problems foot related problems including blisters, increased foot bacteria, nail infections, viral infections, foot pain, hammertoes, athlete’s foot, plantar fasciitis and more. Some podiatrists claim that continuously wearing flip flop actually changes the way wears walk and that wreaks havoc on the rest of the body causing joint and back pain.
Of the 198,437 emergency room visits due to shoe-related injuries, 25,300 were associated with flip flops in 2014, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission on Emergency Room visits.
Here’s are some things you need to know:
You get what you pay for: It’s tempting to buy those cheap plastic flip flops for a few bucks, but don’t. They will have no arch support and end up falling apart quickly. Instead invest in a good pair that has durable materials (leather, hard rubber soles, etc) and that are contoured for more arch support.
Wear them sparingly: It’s fine to wear flip flops to run a few errands or around the house for short periods of time. But don’t wear them for walks or trips to the adventure park. Walking all day in flip flops is likely to cause problems.
Rotate and replace: Don’t wear the same pair of flip flop day in and day out. Your feet and body will adjust to them and while that might seem like they are broken in perfectly, that can train your body to walk to differently. So rotate the shoes you wear including flip flops. Also, just like you would with running shoes, you should replace your flip flops every few months. A little wear-and-tear is ok, but a lot can be dangerous.
Pamper your feet:. It's important to keep your feet very clean, moisturized, and pampered. Sunscreen is crucial. Everyone can see your feet, so you should keep them looking their best. But in general, it's a good idea to treat your feet kindly after they've been exposed to so much sun and dirt and water.
Don't drive in flip flops: Just like any backless shoe, there's a possibility that your flip-flops will slip off your feet and get stuck under the brake or gas pedal. Driving shoes should always be sturdy and secure.
Be cautious: Flip flops offer virtually no protection for your feet. That means there’s little to barrier against broken glass, and other sidewalk debris. It also means that you are at greater risk for stubbed toes, puncture wounds, insect bites, or having a heavy object smash your foot. Flip flops are also meant for wearing on flat surfaces, so hiking, running, playing in the back yard are not appropriate activities for flip flops. Instead wear athletic shoes.