The question: I love wearing flip-flops, but I have been told they are not good for my feet. Please say it isn’t so!
The answer: I hate to say this, because I used to love relaxing in flip-flops or wearing them to show off a pedicure, but most sandals are not great for your feet – and flip-flops are the worst offenders.
Since they don’t offer heel, arch or lateral support, they alter both how you walk (your gait) and how you stand.
Your foot is kinesthetically linked to your entire body. Altering how your foot interacts with the ground causes the rest of your body to compensate, which can result in injuries to the knees, hip and back, not to mention to the foot itself.
Lack of support can cause the foot to overpronate (roll in) or oversupinate (roll out), stressing the fascia. This stress can lead to inflammation and heel pain (commonly referred to as plantar fasciitis).
Unfortunately, the list continues: Flip-flops also cause the toes to grip. This, yet again, affects gait and can result in trigger points developing in your feet and lower legs, inflammation, hammer toes and bunions.
Since the back of the flip-flop slaps against your heel, blisters and chafing can develop and, in the worst cases, a stress fracture can develop.
Now, I am not arguing you should never wear flip-flops. If you really love them, no matter what I say, you will most likely keep wearing them in some capacity. Just use common sense. Don’t wear them to walk any distance, while carrying anything heavy or while standing for long periods.
My personal rule is to think of them as water-shoes: Only wear them in the shower or around the pool.
If you must wear sandals daily, wear ones with a heel strap or full-heel support. And make sure they fit. This may sound obvious, but many people rationalize sloppy summer shoes by thinking “they are just sandals.”
Trainer’s tip: Clean or replace your sandals regularly to get rid of icky bacteria. You should also inspect them closely every few weeks. You need to prioritize more supportive shoes if your sandals are more worn on one side than the other.
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.