Summer wouldn’t be the same without those carefree sandals known as flip flops. Easy to put on and throw off at a moment’s notice, they may seem like the perfect shoe for a sunny adventure. While they may protect you from hot sand at the beach, flip flops can also lead to a wide variety of injuries—especially when worn all summer long.
Flip Flops Cause Countless Injuries Every Year
Flips flops are a cheap and convenient alternative to bulky shoes, and their endless styles keep them wildly popular year after year. However, their lack of foot protection and support makes them more akin to slippers than shoes—and like slippers, they can cause injury when worn in the wrong environments.
Flip flop wearers have suffered a wide range of injuries, including:
- Heel and arch pain. Flip-flops offer no support for the arch of the foot or cushioning for the heel, causing injuries ranging from blisters and plantar fasciitis to muscle sprains and stress fractures. Their lack of ankle stability makes it much easier to twist the foot or ankle sideways, damaging the bones and ligaments in the joint.
- Tripping and slipping. Shoes that aren’t secured to the foot may slide off during walking and cause a fall, catch on steps and stub toes, or even result in car accidents if they slip off while a driver attempts to brake.
- Gait problems. The toe thong and lack of a sturdy sole can actually alter the way a person walks, with the added stress of clenching the foot to keep them from falling off. Over time, flip flops can affect the alignment of your whole body, causing pain in the knees, hips, and back.
- Punctures and lacerations. Thin rubber or foam soles are no match for sharp objects such as glass, stones, or debris, causing cuts and puncture wounds. While injuries on the soles of the feet can be painful for anyone, they can be deadly for people living with diabetes.
- Toe injuries. Exposed toes place the wearer at risk of broken or crushed toes if something falls on their foot, or even amputation injuries if a lawn mower or yard equipment makes contact with their feet.
How to Prevent Flip Flops From Causing Permanent Foot Damage
The best way to protect your feet is to avoid wearing flip flops as your go-to summer footwear. Flip flops should be reserved for places where their main function is to provide a barrier against fungi that can cause plantar warts and athlete’s foot, such as locker rooms and pool areas.
In situations where flip flops are appropriate, you can greatly reduce your injury risks while wearing them by:
- Inspecting them before use. Cheap flip-flops aren’t meant to be worn year after year. If you just pulled an old pair out of the closet, take a close look at the straps and padding and discard them if they show signs of severe wear.
- Buying a quality pair. Instead of buying flimsy flip flops every year, invest in pair made of high-quality leather that fits your foot (your toes and heel shouldn’t hang off the edge). Leather is less likely to cause blisters and provides better protection from sharp objects underfoot.
- Changing shoes at the first sign of injury. Never ignore rubbing, redness, pain, or irritation caused by a pair of shoes. If you develop a cut or injury, switch to another pair of shoes and keep an eye on the site to prevent infection.
- Keeping walking to a minimum. Even quality flip flops should only be worn for a few moments. If you are walking long distances, going to the beach, or walking around a campground, opt for a sturdy pair of sandals with a strap around the heel instead.
If you are suffering pain as a result of your footwear choices, the foot specialists at Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry are here to help. We offer free initial consultations to determine the root cause of the problem, and create a customized treatment plan to get you back on your feet as soon as possible. Simply fill out our online contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET to set up your first visit.