They come in every color of the rainbow and are the footwear of choice when vacationing at the beach, but these fun and fashionable shoes may be harmful to the health of your foot. According to the National Foot Health Assessment, nearly 80% of people age 21 and older have experienced at least one foot problem in their life and medical experts agree that the primary culprit is flip flops.
Flip flops do not have ankle straps that support the area around the ankle. When walking, the ankle is subject to the turns and twists that arise when a person missteps or twists. Sprains from twisting the ankle are common with flip-flops because there is no support. Ankle sprains, strains, and other problems are more likely in people who wear flip-flops than any other shoe.
The flat, thin-soled flip flop offers no arch support. When a person walks while wearing flip-flops, the foot absorbs the impact of the step – no matter what the terrain. With no arch support, the foot collapses and lies flat against the surface of the shoe. The unnatural position of the foot may lead to a collapse in the arch.
With a thin-soled flip flop there is little to no cushioning offered for the heel. The flexible surface of the shoe molds to the ground as a person walks and does not provide enough cushion for the heel to be protected against shock upon impact. Flip-flop wearers experience pain along the plantar fascia. The pain occurs when there is more strain on the connective tissue from the heel to toe than should be. The pain varies in degree of sensation, from burning to stabbing. Most people who experience this type of pain report that burning occurs with each step.
Podiatric studies show that when walking, people tend to scrunch up their toes as the heel lifts into the air. If this type of movement occurs at the wrong time, the gait cycle may be disrupted or become unnatural. When wearing flip-flops, people are more inclined to curl their toes often to keep the shoe on the foot. The improper toe scrunch may lead to head, neck, and hip problems.
Common Injuries from Flip Flops
From stumbling to back pain, flip-flops are responsible for a number of costly and painful foot and health problems. In 2012, the United Kingdom reported an estimated $60 million was spent on the treatment of foot injuries as a result of flip-flops. The most common injuries included:
- Cuts and scrapes from falls
- Foot fatigue
- Heel spurs
- Hip and low back pain, discomfort
Can You Still Wear Flip-Flops?
The choice is yours. While not recommended by podiatrists, there are tips to follow that could help prevent foot injury even if you are not willing to give up your flip-flops.
Choose a sturdier flip-flop with a cushioned sole, rather than a flimsy and thin shoe. Some offer a thick sole and built-in arch support. Limit the time spent wearing flip-flops, and never play sports or walk long distances. Experts recommend replacing flip-flops, especially thin-soled shoes every four months.
Have you recently noticed more foot fatigue?
Perhaps if you’ve worn flip-flops over the summer months they could be culprit for your recent foot fatigue. At Shelby Foot and Ankle we are dedicated to the health of your feet. Call us today to set up your foot and ankle consultation at 586-580-3728.