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Are Flip Flops That Bad?

As the weather warms, we will begin to put away our winter boots and break out shoes of the open-toe variety. With this seasonal change, often comes injuries associated with flip flop use. This article will breakdown why flip flops are dangerous and what to look for in a “good” flip flop if you just cannot live without them.

Why are flip flops terrible?

Not all flip flops are created equal. However, the anatomy of the flip flop remains relatively constant despite the overall quality of the product itself. The first issue with flip flops is that, due to the backless nature of the shoe, the foot’s tendons and toes must over grip to keep the shoe on the foot. This results in fatigue of the tendons which may cause tendonitis or injury. In addition to the over gripping, most flip flops offer little-to-no arch support or shock absorption with cushion. This can lead to plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, or other stress-related injuries.

It is important to examine the quality of your flip flops carefully. Lack of arch support and cushion may result in injuries such as ankle sprains or stress fractures. These injuries are avoidable by choosing a more supportive sandal.  If you experience these injuries, the recovery may last up to 8 weeks. If possible, sandals with a heel strap provide added support that may help prevent these injuries.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Flip Flops

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, here are a few tips on what to look for if you are considering wearing a flip flop.

●       Do shop for a flip-flop made of high-quality, soft leather. Leather minimizes the potential for blisters and other types of irritation.

●       Do gently bend the flip-flop from end to end, ensuring it bends at the ball of the foot. Shoes of any kind should never fold in half.

●       Do ensure that your foot doesn't hang off of the edge of the flip-flop.

●       Do wear a sturdy pair of flip-flops when walking around a public pool, at the beach, in hotel rooms and in locker room areas. Walking barefoot can expose foot soles to plantar warts and athlete's foot.

●       Don't re-wear flip-flops year after year. Inspect older pairs for wear. If they show signs of severe wear, discard them.

●       Don't ignore irritation between toes, where the toe thong fits. This can lead to blisters and possible infections.

●       Don't wear flip-flops while walking long distances. Even the sturdiest flip-flops offer little in terms of shock absorption and arch support.

●       Don't do yard work while wearing flip-flops. Always wear a shoe that fully protects feet when doing outside activities such as mowing the lawn or using a weed-eater.

●       Don't play sports in flip-flops. This practice can lead to twisting of the foot or ankle, as well as sprains and breaks.

Which brands do we trust?

When it comes to smart flip flop design, there are two companies that meet all or our requirements.

  1. Fitflop: uses EVA and rubber technology which provides excellent cushion and shock absorption; the shape of the insert is also contoured to the foot, providing arch support not usually found in flip flops.
  2. Vionic: All Vionic sandals contain Vio-Motion Support which is a proprietary technology that hugs the contours of your feet like a natural footprint. Vionic is approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) and is designed by a team of podiatrists.

Who should not wear flip flops?

Even with the most supportive versions of a flip flop, there are populations that should never wear flip flops. Most notably, diabetics with peripheral neuropathy should always take caution when walking in shoes as open as flip flops. The risk for injury to the foot without notice is increased when the foot is not protected.

Want more info?

A full list of APMA-approved sandals can be found on their website. APMA Seal of Approval

Foot & Ankle Premier Specialists

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