How bad are flip-flops for your feet?

how bad are flip flops for your feet

Your flip-flops occupy that space in your shoe collection between proper shoes and walking barefoot.

Flip-flops are informal and easily recognised because of their V-shaped straps. People used to wear them when they went to the beach of mowed the lawn. Now, however, they seem to have taken in a more central position in the world of footwear. You see people going shopping in them, and some of the more dolled up versions are even putting in an appearance in the workplace and in fashion catalogues.

Are flip-flops good for your feet?

No, no and no again, say various sources in the foot care industry. And it comes as no surprise. Think about how your feet feel after an hour or two of walking in these strapless and heelless rubber thongs.

Extra stress on knees, back and hips

Firstly, you have to scrunch your toes to keep the flip-flops on as they have no heel straps. This gets tiring, so people start shuffling along, a bit like one does when wearing slippers that provide no support. This shuffling actually causes your body to adjust and places extra stress on your knees and back and hips, according to Southeast Orthopedic Specialists. This, in turn, comes with its own set of problems further down the line.

Lack of support and injuries

Secondly, they don’t provide any arch or heel support, leaving your foot to turn and twist as you move. On any other surface except a completely flat one, this can easily lead to nasty injuries, such as a sprained ankle, or conditions such as tendonitis. Or even fractures if you happen to fall. Because the thin rubber sole provides no heel support, or shock absorption, you can develop cracks in your foot bones if you wear fit flops for extended periods of time. This lack of support for the arch of the foot can also lead to plantar fasciitis, which, in turn could lead to fallen arches. This could lead to prolonged foot pain and walking difficulties. Tendonitis in the toes can also lead to bunions.

Blisters and fungal infection

And thirdly, if back pain, and fallen arches are not enough to put you off, the strap between your big toe and your second toe can cause blisters, sores or a fungal infection. The constant motion and sweat can also cause calluses and blisters in your foot pads and between the toes.

Know when to wear your flip-flops

So should you dump all your flip-flops? Not quite, says the American Podiatric Medical Association. They can protect the soles of your feet against hot surfaces in summer, and they can stop you from catching athlete’s foot or plantar warts in public showers. But don’t wear them to hike, play sports or any activity that requires you to be on your feet for more than a short period of time.

By Susan Erasmus


1. Marshfield Clinic Health System
2. Southeast Orthopedic Specialists
3. American Podiatric Association

The Content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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