One of the most popularly worn when the weather warms up are flip flops- they are lightweight, affordable, easy to slip on, and they are great to wear to the pool or the beach. However, despite their popularity, they have a pretty controversial reputation especially when it comes to the health of the feet, knees, and even the back. Read on to find out if you should switch to another type of footwear during the summer.
Are flip flops dangerous? Flip flops are considered to be dangerous footwear types for a variety of reasons:
- They expose your feet to viral, fungal, and bacterial infections. This is because the only covering your feet have when you have them is the thong straps, making it easy to come into contact with filthy spots that may lead to serious infections.
- Wearing flip flops can result in terrible blisters due to the thin strap that tends to rub against your skin as you are walking.
- Flip flops may cause existing bunions to worsen. This is because you have to make an effort to keep them on, and over gripping can leave you with painful bunions at your toe joint.
- They tend to make you clumsy. This is because when you are walking in flip flops, you take shorter strides, making it easier to trip.
- Wearing flip flops can cause damage to your toes, leading to a condition known as hammertoe.
- Flip flops that do not have arch or heel support can result in foot problems such as plantar fasciitis as well as back and knee problems.
Flip flops are breathable and light, which is why so many people wear them when the warm season kicks in. However, the construction of many flip flop designs tends to pose a variety of dangers to the wearer, which is why many health experts advise against wearing them.
The dangers associated with wearing flip flops
1. Wearing them can lead to the development of plantar fasciitis and heel spurs
Many flip flops have little to no arch support. This can lead to a variety of foot conditions, including:
- Plantar fasciitis – This is a condition that develops when the plantar fascia, a ligament that supports the arch, is excessively strained. This leads to the heel of the foot to inflame painfully. Flip flops that do not have enough absorption properties on impact as you are walking can cause the plantar fascia to strain, consequently leading to the development of plantar fasciitis.
- Heel spurs – If you keep getting plantar fasciitis as a result of wearing flip flops that lack shock absorption, you could end up developing heel spurs. A heel spur is a bony protrusion that develops when there is a buildup of calcium at the bottom or back of your heel. Heel spurs can often cause pain and hinder your movements.
- Achilles tendinitis – Achilles tendinitis is a condition that manifests itself as a mild ache above the heel or the back of your leg. Wearing flip flops that lack support is one of the contributing factors to its development.
2. They can cause knee, hip, and back pain
Wearing flip flops can result in knee, back, and hip pain. This is because as you walk in them, you strides tend to be shorter, consequently putting unusual strain on your hips, feet, and lower back. Additionally, as you walk in flip flops, the lower portion of your leg slightly rotates, consequently altering your pelvis ankle and increasing strain in your lower spine. This changes in how your body functions could lead to stiffness and pain in these areas of your body that could worsen over time.
3. They tend to expose your feet to viral, fungal, and bacterial infections
When you wear flip flops, your feet are very exposed since the thong straps don’t provide much coverage, and your heels are also uncovered. This means that your feet will get easily filthy when you wear your flip flops in public, making it easy for you to contract nasty things like staphylococcus. This is a type of bacteria that causes skin irritation, tenderness, redness, and swelling on your feet. If you have open wounds on your feet, a staph infection can turn deadly especially when the bacteria find their way to your bloodstream, bones, and joints.
Another condition that may develop due to overexposed feet is athlete’s foot. This is a fungal infection that is itchy and highly contagious, easily spread when you come into contact with contaminated surfaces. Viruses that come in contact with your feet could lead to the development of warts and human papillomavirus (HPV)
4. They slow you down and make you clumsy
Your feet and body are typically trained to adjust to the heel-toe stride of regular shoes that you wear on a day to day basis. When you switch from normal footwear to flip flops, your body will also make some adjustments, which will cause you to start taking smaller strides as you walk to increase stability. Since your steps will be more halted and pressured, you will be more at risk to tripping and falling as you walk. This could lead to potentially serious injuries whether you are at home and you slip onto the floor or in a crowded street where you could get trampled on.
5. Flip flops can destroy your heels
Flip flops get their name from the sound they make as their soles hit your heels. Your heels, in turn, hit the pavement as you walk, and since there is not much cushioning incorporated in most flip flops, the heel-strike impact is accentuated, which could cause pain to develop in the area especially if you are walking in them for extended periods.
6. They can cause blisters, calluses, and sores to develop on your feet
Flip flops feature a thong design that goes between your big toe and your second toe. This strap in some flip flop designs can rub against your skin every time you take a step, which can lead to the development of blisters and sores in these areas. When these blisters pop, you will be left with open wounds on your toes, making you even more vulnerable to infections from pathogens that you might pick up when your foot is exposed. Calluses can develop on areas of the feet where there is a lot of friction, including the area between your first two toes when there is a lot of rubbing from the straps of a flip flop.
7. Flip flops can cause permanent damage to your toes
When you walk in flip flops, your toes are forced to make more effort to keep them on your feet, which could result in a condition known as hammertoe over time. This deformity can afflict any toe on the foot, but it most common on the second or third toe. It causes the affected toe to bend downward, giving it a claw-like appearance. A hammertoe can make it uncomfortable to walk around, and it can also result in pain when you attempt to move or stretch the toe that has been affected or those that surround it.
8. They can ruin your posture
A flip flop is a flat type of footwear that generally does not bend like your foot as you walk. As a result, this will affect how you move and gradually alter your posture.
9. They can lead to the development of bunions
When you have flip flops on, your feet work harder than usual to keep them on your feet due to how they are designed. This could result in over gripping, which in turn leads to the tissue or bone found at the joint of the big toe to protrude, a deformity that is known as a bunion. They tend to be painful and cause discomfort as you walk.
10. Your feet are more prone to objects poking you when you wear flip flops
As previously mentioned, your feet are more exposed when you have flip flops on. This makes them very vulnerable to sharp objects that you may come in contact with, causing bruised toes, nail injuries, and general harm to the rest of the foot that hangs out. Cheap flip flops also tend to wear down very quickly, and as the heel depresses, your feet are more susceptible to glass, nails, splinters and other sharp objects on the ground.
11. Your skin is more exposed to the sun when you wear flip flops
Another downside of the overexposure of feet when you have flip flops on is the risk of developing skin cancer. When applying sunscreen, it is not uncommon to overlook the feet, making them especially susceptible to harmful UV rays and skin cancer as a result.
12. They could contain toxic materials
Some plastic straps are made of latex, which causes allergic reactions in many people, or BPA-laden, which is often associated with various cancer types. Opt to go for flip flops that have fabric or leather straps which are generally safer.
Although flip flops can pose a variety of dangers to your general health, wearing them once in a while and for short periods should be fine. Furthermore, there are flip flop varieties that are well constructed and of high quality, featuring support, cushioning, and comfortable straps. Therefore, if you must buy flip flops, these are the varieties that you want to go for.