Avoid long hours in flip-flops for better foot health

Published: 2011-06-06 10:42:14
Author: Karyn Spory

   As the weather warms and grass turns into a dazzling shade of green, flip-flops become the go-to footwear for many people.

"I wear them quite often, probably eight hours a day," said Amy Recward, a University of Northern Iowa student who admits to owning at least six pairs. "When I'm in a hurry I can just pull them on and get out of the house quickly."

But foot care specialists say slipping into the convenience of this flimsy summer staple can lead to foot trouble. Flip flops, which are typically made of rubber, do very little to secure or protect your feet.

"Toes tend to grip the flip-flops and in doing so curl down, which can lead to hammer toes," said Covenant Clinic podiatrist Dr. Richard Bremner.

Hammer toe is the contraction of the toe so that it is bent down and becomes crooked and deformed, which can lead to corns and arthritis, among other issues.

"Now that I think about it I do (curl my toes under), because you don't want them to fly off," Recward said.

Hammer toes can be fixed surgically, but prevention is best, Bremner said.

Also, flip flops have no shock absorption, which can lead to bruised bones.

"Flip-flops are too flimsy and flexible, causing too much stress on the metatarsal (bones), which can lead to stress fractures," warns Dr. Bremner.

The flat-footed nature of the flip-flop can lead to arch strains and ligament issues, and their open-toed design makes your exposed piggies susceptible to being stubbed and injuries from falling objects.

Bremner advises people to avoid walking long distances in flip-flops, such as when running errands or sightseeing on vacation.

"If you're not wearing them at the pool or beach, don't wear them," he said. "Cork sole sandals are good alternatives to flip-flops. They form to your feet and have more arch support and shock absorption."