Understanding the health effects from wearing flip-flops

Feet are an incredible “feat” of engineering (get it) – they carry us through absolutely everything; yet we don’t think about them until something goes wrong. More often than not, something goes wrong as a result of poor footwear choices such as flip flops.

Flip-flops are named for the sound they make when you walk, but they could have been called “ouch-umphs” – the sound you’ll make after wearing them all the time. Flip flops, as convenient as they are, they’re deadly for our feet, posture, backs, hips. While flip flops are all the rage for the beach and the pool, you may want to remember some important tips before letting convenience take a front seat to practicality and safety.

The moment you stop giving your feet regular arch support (as flip flops) and you’re on your feet for a significant amount of time, you’re going to exasperate foot, back, knee, and posture issues. Wearers can suffer foot pain due to lack of arch support, tendinitis, and even sprained ankles if they trip.

Remember Jimmy Buffett’s tune, Margaritaville?

“I blew out my flip-flop

Stepped on a pop top

Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home”

Because flip-flops offer little protection, you’re at greater risk for stubbed toes, glass cuts, puncture wounds, or having a heavy object smash your foot. For kids, flip flops can create problems in crowded school hallways and getting on and off the school bus. The solution? Only wear flip flops for 1-2 hours per day and stick with brands that offer more support and have a thicker sole such as Vionic and TEVA. Also, limit use of flip-flops to around the pool, to the beach, in the locker room and even on the carpeting or in the bathroom of your hotel room to prevent injuries and limit the likelihood of contracting any bacterial infections.

And remember to replace flip flops every few months for what I like to call the “gross out index” – a University of Miami study found one pair of flip-flops home to more than 18,000 bacteria, including the dangerous Staphylococcus aureus and bacteria from fecal matter.

One last bit of expert advice from this footwear fashionista doc – If you flip-flop your way through lazy summer days, don’t forget: your exposed feet need sunscreen, too. (Why sunscreen?? – read our previous post Summer Guide for Healthy Feet & Ankles). Otherwise, you could be sporting sunburned tootsies with your sequined flip-flops – bad for your skin and a disastrous fashion statement, too. And whatever you do: please, don’t wear them with socks!!