Flip Flops and Foot Health
A good pair of shoes can help with recovery from toe deformities such as bunions and hammertoes. Healthy shoes should have a wide and roomy toe box so that the pressure exerted on the sides of the feet is kept to the minimum possible level. The toes should also not be forced into unnatural positions. Flip-flops may seem like the ideal choice of footwear for summer as the toes are free to move, no pressure is exerted on the side of the feet and they are cool and comfortable. Surely a flip flop cannot be anything other than good for your feet?
However according to a news release by doctors at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine School in New York, flip flops can be bad for the feet. They have been declared your ‘arch enemy’. Podiatrists often see an increase in foot problems during the summer with many injuries caused by flimsy flip-flops.
Flip flops may reduce the risk of contracting foot fungal infections such as Athlete’s foot and plantar warts at communal swimming pools, but as far as foot health in general is concerned, the humble flip flop is nothing but bad news. The Institute for Preventative Foot Health has also highlighted the dangers of flip-flops in the wake of the Mount Sinai report, and many a podiatrist has been consulted by the media for a personal take on this new axis of all foot evil.
However good flip flops may be for easing discomfort from bunions, they can actually be exceptionally bad for the feet. Excessive flip flop wear throughout the summer could see you having to deal with much more than just a bunionette or sunburned feet. You could be at risk of developing a number of painful foot conditions from these shoes. Before you cast your flip-flops aside in favor of better foot health, we felt it necessary to look at the reasons why flip flops are now deemed to be so bad for your feet.
Flip Flops and Foot Health Issues
Every summer podiatrists have to deal with everything from infected blisters caused by skin abrasion from plastic flip flops to inversion sprains and broken bones from trips, slips and falls caused by wearing this flimsy footwear. The design may be ultra convenient, but the often flimsy construction means they are an accident waiting to happen. Many cheaper flip flops have a highly flexible sole which is prone to bending a little too much, and this can easily lead to a stumble and fall. Even flip flop fanatics with the balance and poise of a mountain goat may not see the summer out totally unscathed. Avoid tripping and slipping in your flop flops and you are still likely to get a blister or two from the abrasive plastic toe post and straps, an occasional stubbed toe or foot arch pain. But it gets worse.
The main problem with flip flops aside from the flimsy design is the total lack of any form of arch support. The foot arches need to have some support for comfortable walking and to prevent foot fatigue. When the feet get fatigued they cannot deal with the forces from walking and these stresses are then transferred to the bones. Muscle sprains become more likely, stress fractures may be caused and plantar fasciitis can develop.
The feet may have evolved to work perfectly well without any additional arch support, but with flip flops on the feet the walking gait is altered and the lack of arch support becomes a major problem. Flip flops shorten the stride and promote overpronation of the feet, which in turn places a strain on the foot arches causing them to over flatten. It is for this reason that they have been called the arch enemy of the feet.
The problems do not end with the foot arches as flip flops offer no stability in the heel and very little in the way of cushioning. This can lead to strains and sprains, and since the toes have to grip to hold flip flops on the feet, this highly unnatural way of walking can make muscle, tendon and ligament injuries much more likely to occur. They may be convenient for the beach, but few podiatrists would argue that flip-flops are not bad for your feet if you wear them too often.
When are Flip Flips OK to Wear?
It’s all bad news as far as flip flops are concerned according to recent reports. Wearing these sandals in moderation is not going to ruin your feet. The important thing to remember is that flip flops are not everyday shoes and should only be worn around the house, the pool or to the beach. Long walks are going to see your feet in all manner of pain, and playing sports in flip flops is also likely to result in injury. As for driving or motorcycling in flip flops this is a recipe for disaster. This style of sandal has long been deemed to be unsafe for drivers of any road vehicle and has been implicated in a number of accidents.
Sandals, Comfort and Good Foot Health
If you want to look after your feet in the summer there are many healthier footwear choices available than the humble flip-flop. Ideally thong sandals should be avoided in favor of sandals with straps to hold them steady on the feet. Having said that you can buy healthy toe-post sandals, and Orthaheel is one of the best brands. However, as a general rule of thumb, look for a sandal with a heel strap as this will reduce the work the toes are required to perform when walking. Also look for sandals with instep straps for greater security and an orthotic footbed to provide arch support.
There are many high quality sandal brands on the market which offer greater protection for your feet than flip-flops. Buy these and you will be less likely to end up at a podiatrist’s surgery this summer. To help you choose summer sandals which are healthy for the feet we have picked out some of the best brands for you, with three of the best covered on the link below.