During the summer months, we at Long Island Foot & Ankle Group know that many of our patients favor flip flops as their number one shoe choice. Although we recognize that these shoes are easy to wear and help feet stay cool on hot days, we also see many injuries and chronic foot problems that develop from the long-term wearing of flip flops. Below are the pluses and minuses of this popular style of summertime footwear:
The best feature of flip flops is that they are the ideal shoe to wear around the pool or at the beach or lake. They provide some protection against sharp objects, although will not protect against nails or other objects that can cause puncture wounds. But most importantly, flip flops cover your feet and prevent them from coming in contact with fungi and bacteria that can cause infections such as athlete’s foot or fungal toenails. These conditions are spread by direct contact and they flourish especially in warm, damp public places.
The open design of flip flops allowing ease of slipping on and off, which are both part of their appeal, are also ultimately their downfall. Patients who wear flip flops on a daily basis are at risk for the following:
●Increase in the likelihood of ankle sprains due to no ankle support or sides to help hold feet securely in place.
●Injuries. Scraped toes and cuts on the sides of the feet are common because feet are completely exposed and frequently fall off or out of the flip flop. In addition, the most common kind of flip flop—those made of rubber or vinyl—tend to get slippery with sweat causing friction between shoe and skin which leads to blisters.
●Flat feet. Flip flops provide no arch support.
●Heel pain and plantar fasciitis. When feet are flat for long periods of time, stress and pressure are placed on the heels, leading to discomfort in this area.
●Stress fractures. The thin, flat soles of flip flops provide basically zero shock absorption as your feet continuously pound the ground while you walk. Tiny, hairline cracks can begin to form, which will cause ongoing pain in the forefoot.
Unfortunately, flip flops are not a good choice as your “go-to” summer shoes. If you are a frequent wearer of flip flops and you have begun to notice foot or heel pain, contact our Valley Stream or Lake Success office for an appointment so that our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Russell Caprioli, Dr. Mary Ann Bilotti, Dr. John Haight or Dr. Marzana Mleczko can examine your feet. You’ll most likely have to put away the flip flops, but you’ll be saving your feet from serious long-term harm.