As spring slowly arrives, more and more people are swapping their boots for flip flops. While flip flops are great to wear to the pool or on the beach, wearing them for a prolonged period of time can lead to foot pain and problems.
While stylish and comfortable, flip flops offer very little support for your feet. They lack arch support, heel cushioning or shock absorption so wearing them for long periods of time, such as being out and about on errands, all day to school, or attending warm weather outdoor events, can lead to foot pain.
You may not feel the pain now, but people who frequently wear flip flops may eventually develop tendinitis, problems with their heels/arches, and even stress fractures in their feet.
Here’s a closer look at what can happen when you wear flip flops for long periods of time:
Toe problems. Your toes take a beating when you wear flip flops. Not only are they not protected if anything falls on them, but the toes need to grip the flip flop to keep them in place. Over time, that can lead to painful tendinitis in the toes, inflammation of the toe joints, hammer or claw toes. Blisters can also form as the toes rub against each other or the thong on the flip flop, which is especially dangerous for diabetics.
Arch/Heel problems. The bottom of your feet have a thick tissue called the plantar fascia. This structure is a thick band of tissue that helps support the arch and move us through each step. If this structure is not properly supported – and flip flops offer little to no support – you can develop plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammation most commonly felt at the heel. Symptoms vary but can begin with dull or sharp heel pain that is worse the first few steps in the morning.
Joint problems. Your feet carry the weight of your entire body. If you have problems with them, it can lead to issues elsewhere. For example, you walk differently if your feet hurt, which can lead to problems with your knees, hips, or back. In addition, if you wear flip flops when running or playing sports, you are at a higher risk of ankle injury.
Infections. Flip flops are also germ factories. Since they are exposed to the elements so to speak, germs can easily find their ways into flip flops and then onto your feet. A 2009 study found that one pair of flip flops was home to 18,000 bacteria, which can cause an infection if there’s a cut or wound anywhere on the feet. Yuck!
After our long, hard winter, it may be hard to put down the flip flops and choose a more supportive footwear, but it’s the best thing you can do for your feet. Opt for a supportive, firm sandal with a strap to help hold it in place and give your feet a break.