Flip-flops are a popular footwear in the summer, but they do have some serious drawbacks for your health. The dangers are bad enough to prompt some doctors to caution wearers.
Foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Zachary Vaupel says continuous flip-flop wear will hurt your feet. The end results can be pain in your arches and heels, shin splints, stress fractures and even planters fasciitis. Also running in flip-flops can be downright dangerous as you can fall more easily, leading to strains, sprains and broken bones.
That’s why many doctors caution that young children not wear them. Researchers have also found that extended use of the footwear can alter your gait, which can cause problems with your hips and lower back.
Then there’s the hygiene concerns. Flip-flops are also very dirty, which is a given as all the surfaces of the shoe are exposed to the ground. But the amount of bacteria that live on one pair of flip-flops might surprise you.
According to a report from the TODAY show and the University of Miami, upwards of 18,000 bacteria – such as fecal matter and the dangerous bacteria Staphylococcus – often can be found covering flip-flops. As they are so dirty, it’s recommended that you wash your feet after an excursion out in flip-flops and don’t wear them in the house. Reserve those flip-flops for the beach and streets.
Dangers aside, I love my flip-flops and don’t see many people giving them up. That’s probably why the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) provides helpful tips about flip-flops in order to ensure safe and healthy wear:
- Try shopping for flip-flops of a higher quality. Soft leather can help minimize possible irritation to your skin.
- Use the bend-test. Bend the flip-flop gently end-to-end, making sure it bends at the ball of the foot, and not in-half.
- Make sure they aren’t too small and that no part of the foot hangs off at either end.
- Wear a sturdier pair in public places such as public pools, the beach, hotel and locker rooms.
- Throw away pairs if they’re seriously worn out.
- Never ignore irritation between your toes.
- Avoid wearing flip-flops if you plan to walk long distances or hiking.
- Never play sports in flip-flops, which can often lead to sprains, breaks, and twists of the foot or ankle.
These seem like sensible tips to follow!
Want more tips for making your footwear more comfortable and clean? Take a look at these handy 12 shoe tips.