They’re convenient, casual and can even feel comfortable, but when it comes to foot health, flip flops can cause major problems. We going to spare you the lecture on all the bacteria your feet are exposed to in flip flops because there are more serious issues you should be aware of.
1. You could develop hammer toes
When you’re wearing flip flops, your toes have to work hard just to keep them on your feet. Your toes will be bending inwards pulling on the sole, which over time, can cause imbalances in muscles, tendons or ligaments in your feet. The result is a toe that has an abnormal bend in the middle joint, usually in the second, third or fourth toe. Hammer toe pain and pressure can be relieved by changing the type of shoes you wear or by adding certain types of insoles.
2. No arch support leads to overuse injuries
Very few flip flops have arch support, which could mean bad news for people with flat feet. Without support, their knees, hips and back will be out of alignment and can lead to overuse injuries. Make sure you're wearing shoes or insoles that provide you with adequate arch support as often as possible to avoid these problems. Unfortunately, that means you'll be wearing flip flops less often in the summer compared to people with normal arches.
3. You can develop plantar fasciitis
Without the right support, your plantar, the band of tissue in the arch of your foot, will start to pull. This will inflame the tissue, making your arch red and painful from plantar fasciitis. If you're experiencing plantar fasciitis, you should stop wearing flip flops right away and opt for shoes with better arch support. Some foot stretches could help alleviate the pain as well.
4. Heel spurs
If you don’t try to remedy your plantar fasciitis, it can lead to heel spurs. Heel spurs are calcium deposits causing bony protrusions on the bottom of your heel. Treatments include everything from orthotics to surgery.
5. They can change the way you walk
In a 2008 study, researchers at Auburn University found flip-flops actually change the way wearers walk, sometimes permanently. Those changes can wreak havoc on the rest of the body, with distinct and noticeable effects on everything from the wearer’s posture to their gait.
6. They send a lot of people to the hospital
Ten percent of the 218,000 reported injuries related to foot-wear in 2016 were caused by flip flops. Twisted ankles, stepping on sharp objects, and falls were all frequent causes spotted on the injury list.
Flip flops are very popular and it’s unlikely that people will stop wearing them completely. However, reducing how often you wear them when you’re out of the house is definitely recommended. If you want something convenient to wear when you’re going to the beach, flip flops will probably be at the top of your list. If you’re going to be walking longer distances, however, wear shoes and insoles that can provide better support.