Flip-flops have been around since 1500 B.C. Everyone from ancient Egyptians to California surfers to Northwestern University’s women’s lacrosse team loved to free their feet and don flip flops.
They’re cute. They’re inexpensive. They show off a good pedicure. They are cool on the feet. They are easy to get on and off. They can be dressed up or down to go with just about any outfit. Flip flops conjure up happy images of sun, sand, surf, barbeques and beaches.
It’s hard to be unhappy wearing flip flops. On the surface it would appear that flip flops have a lot going for them!
However, almost 80% of North American adults report stubbed toes, broken bones, sprained ankles and falls. A major culprit is flip flops!
The Walk: An Auburn, Alabama study found that people wearing flip flops took shorter strides and their heels hit the ground with less vertical force than they did when wearing athletic shoes.
Your toes cling to the flip flop to keep it on. This causes your foot, your leg, and your hip to work in an unnatural way.
Flip flops have no arch support. This leads to flat footedness and you become pigeon toed.
Flip flops have no heel cushion. This can lead to heel calluses. It also means your foot slides around and makes your legs work harder.
Flip-flops straps can also rub as a wearer walks, creating friction that leads to blisters.
They offer next to no foot protection so wearers’ feet get cuts, scrapes and bruises.
Your foot can develop hammer toes from years of compensating for work that should have been done by the small foot muscles—which don’t have a chance to do their work in flip flops. Hammer toes are ugly and frequently painful in a shoe.
Shoes should flex where your foot bends, said Noreen Oswell, a podiatrist at The Foot Center at the Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Flip flops bend all over the place or the stiff soles of some stylish flip flops don’t bend at all! In a flip flop, your toes flex down to hold the flip flop on. The middle part of your foot is arching up. This is the opposite of what your foot should be doing. Over time this produces fatigue and walking irregularities.
Flip flop wearers also have nothing to absorb sweat. If flip flops are not dried and feet are not washed after wearing them, this can lead quickly to foot diseases like athlete’s foot.
Very few people are born with foot ailments. These develop over time from neglect, lack of proper foot care and improper footwear.
The best shoe for everybody is a good athletic shoe that laces up and has good structure. In addition, people should always wear padded, acrylic-blend socks, which wick moisture away from the foot.
Crocs, which have some structure, cushion and breathability, can be an easy alternative to flip-flops>
So, even though flip flops are cool, easy, and inexpensive, you may well be paying a high price in foot problems.