The weather outside is warmer, and people turn to their flip flops to run around town.  Although they are cute and easy to slip on, flip flops are not the best choice for summer footwear. Flip flops can be dangerous to wear and can lead to injuries and accidents, including trips, falls, sprained ankles, and broken bones.

How could something as cute and simple as flip flops cause all these problems?

 

The answer is simple; flip flops don’t provide enough support for your foot. Flip flops flat surface soles cause ligaments to be pulled and tugged out of position and creates misalignment of the bones in your feet. Those ligaments being tugged throughout the lower limb can cause inflammation, low back pain and postural problems. Not to mention, these factors can lead to common ailments of frequent flip flop users such as bunions, heel spurs, and plantar fasciitis.

Ankle Pain

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Wearing flip flops can be hazardous to your health for many reasons. In addition to the tendency to slip off your feet, they can also get caught underneath objects, or easily get stepped on by someone else causing you to trip and fall.  Many Emergency Room visits throughout the summer are due to flip flop induced sprained ankles.

On top of visits to the ER, flip flops can cause conditions, such as hammertoe, which can require surgery.

 

Hammertoes occur when one toe crosses over another. When wearing flip flops, the tendons in your toes curl to help grip the ground. The flip flops’ poor support and the tendons pulling can lead to hammertoes which are very painful and can require surgery to fix.

Hammertoe

Hammertoe Image Source: mayoclinic.org

 

Flip flops may not be the best for your feet, but microorganisms love the environment they create!

 

Wearing flip flops puts your feet at risk for fungal infections. The foam in the bottom of the flip flops absorbs water and creates an environment where fungus can grow. Any small crack, broken blister from the flip flop’s toe separator, or cut can become the fungus’ entry point into your body.  The only way to prevent this is to keep your flip flops dry and to replace them often.

Dirty Flip Flops

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Does this mean you must abandon your favorite summer footwear for good?

 

Not necessarily.

If you must wear flip flops, then you should be cautious and smart when doing so.  Only wear flip flops for short periods of time, keep them dry, and take frequent breaks while wearing them to avoid blisters, stress of the ligaments and tendons, and backaches.  Although some manufacturers make flip flops that provide increased support throughout your foot when compared to the flat foam bottom types, there is no substitute for well fitting shoes with proper support.

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Physical Therapist at Freedom Physical Therapy Services
DPT
Molly Rittberg received her master’s degree in Physical Therapy in 2007 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to receive her doctorate from Rosalind Franklin University (North Chicago) in 2009. She has since worked in an outpatient orthopedic practice where she worked with patients of all ages, injuries and disabilities. She has a wide variety of experiences including knee, ankle, foot and shoulder injuries, post-operative conditions, spinal rehabilitation and peripheral neuropathies.