Beware the Common Flip-Flop

There’s no denying the allure of flip-flops. What started out as surfer garb in the 1950s and 60s has grown so much in popularity that now we find them in closets all over the world. When the warm weather hits, what’s not to love about their convenience, relatively low cost, and styles ranging from monochromatic, to rhinestone-covered, to soles that imprint a custom message in the sand?

Well, from a podiatrist’s point of view, there’s plenty not to love:

  • Flip-flops offer no support. They’re essentially a flat piece of rubber with nothing built up the sides that’ll support your arch.
  • They’re lousy at protecting your foot, since there’s so little there.
  • Their lack of stability causes increased slipping, falling, sprained ankles, fractures, stubbed toes, torn nails, cuts, scrapes, and blisters.
  • Many cases of plantar fasciitis can be traced back to the wearing of flip-flops. Plantar fasciitis is heel and arch pain caused by straining and stretching of the plantar fascia, the length of tissue from your toes to your heel.
  • When there’s nothing holding your heel in place, your toes work overtime to grip your shoe when you walk. All that toe-gripping can strain the ligaments of your foot causing tendinitis. It can also change your entire gait eventually causing leg, hip, and back pain.

Dr. Megan L. Oltmann and Dr. Craig B. Frey, the podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland in Solon, Ohio, recognize that many of our patients are loathe to give up these favorite sandals. And so we offer up these tips to wear them as safely as possible:

  • Choose flip-flops with thick soles that don’t bend easily.
  • Reduce the strain on your toes by purchasing styles that have a back strap.
  • Be smart about what kind of activities you do while wearing flip-flops. Relaxing poolside? – Okay. Mowing the lawn? – Never! It’s recommended that you not drive a car while wearing them as well. There’ve been many recorded incidences of flip-flops getting caught between accelerator and brake pedals, causing accidents.
  • Don’t live in them. Save them for the beach or pool and limit the amount of time you wear them elsewhere.

For additional advice on keeping your feet safe during the summer months, visit our website for an appointment or call us at (440) 903-1041.