What’s wrong with wearing flip flops?
When individuals are asked why they wear flip flops, most of them usually say because they are comfortable. This is ironic because in the summertime many patients develop pain BECAUSE they have been wearing flip flops every day. Flip flops are one of the least supportive types of shoes on the market. Walking while wearing basic flip flops is similar to walking barefoot. Flip flops do not provide structural support for the joints in the foot, therefore the tendons and muscles have to work harder to stabilize the foot.
Also, the lack of arch support and lack of heel cushioning of flip flops allows abnormalities of the foot structure to worsen.
There is a fine line between allowing a certain amount of motion with your shoes but avoiding excessive motion. Excessive motion can lead to decreased joint and arch support, tendon overuse, and potentially inflammation.
So if you have to wear flip flops which are the best to wear? The more support the better. To test for structural support, hold the flip flop in your hands-if you can easily fold it in half it is not supportive. There should be firmness or stiffness to the sole of the flip flop. Also the thickness of the flip flop is important. It is not good if the flip flop is extremely thin(not only is there not much cushion for the heel but that also means less support or rigidity). Try to purchase a flip flop where you can see a visible arch built into it. Those $10 flip flops just aren’t going to cut it! You get what you pay for. It may seem silly to spend $50 or more on a pair of flip flops but if they provide the support you need and last several years then they are a good investment. Some examples of brand names that provide better support include: Vionic, Fitflop, Sole, Birkenstocks, Clarks, Oofos, Orthaheel.
Next time you head out the door think twice about what you are putting on your feet. That extra support and cushion in your summer shoes will make all the difference!
Dr. Melody Stouder works in our Greencastle, PA and McConnellsburg, PA offices. She graduated from Temple University in 2014 and then went on to complete her surgical foot and ankle training in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In 2017 she returned to her home town in south central Pennsylvania in order to continue to serve her community. She loves spending time outdoors with her husband and baby boy on the weekends.
Price C, Andrejevas V, Findlow AH, Graham-Smith P, Jones R. Does flip-flop style footwear modify ankle biomechanics and foot loading patterns?. J Foot Ankle Res. 2014;7(1):40. Published 2014 Sep 26. doi:10.1186/s13047-014-0040-y
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