Flips flops are no longer reserved for beach wear only. They are becoming more and more accepted as appropriate casual footwear in lots of situations – maybe not in winter, but as long as the weather is warm and dry – but as easy and convenient as they are, and as many different styles as can now be found, – some people do find them a little hard to walk in.
How do you walk in flip flops? That’s not an easy question to answer without some visual cues. The best way it can be explained is via the following step-by-step (pardon the pun) guide.
How do you walk in flip flops – step by step guide
1. Get your sizing right
When you buy a pair of flip flops, no matter how simple – or how fancy – they are, in order for them to be easy to walk in your feet should not be ‘hanging out’ of them and ideally, when looking down around a 1/2 inch of the sole should still be visible all around. Not sure how to visualize half and inch? On average it’s a little less than the distance between the tip and the top of the first knuckle on your pinky finger.
You also need to make sure that the upper thongs are not going to rub and irritate your feet. They should be snug enough so that they won’t fall off as you walk, but not so tight that they will begin digging into the top of your foot as you move, something that can obviously be hugely painful.
This is most often a problem with rubber thong flip flops as the material has far less give than cloth or leather so if you are purchasing this style trying before buying is usually a must. That means that if you are shoe shopping online make sure that you’ll be able to return the flip flops if they do end up being a little too tight on top.
2. Get ready to walk
Flip flops leave almost every part of your foot exposed to the world and the open nature of the shoe means that, to put it bluntly, any foot odor is more exposed as well. To help prevent offending anyone, add a little deodorizing foot powder to the soles of your feet before slipping your flip flops on.
3. Don’t walk like a duck
To prevent trips and falls as you walk in flip flops keep your feet as straight as possible, pointing forwards. If you splay your feet to much – a bit like a duck – or scrunch your toes together too tightly you are more likely to fall. And that’s a bad look, especially if you are trying to look cool at the beach.
4. Actively pinch your big and pointer toes together as you walk
Not with your hands obviously, but if you consciously walk so that your first two toes are together they will grip the toe thong of the flip flop far better and make it less likely that the shoe will fall off. Curling your toes up a little bit – not too much, as you walk will help as well.
5. Don’t slide and don’t shuffle
When you get moving, walk heel to toe in the same way as you would when wearing sandals. As long as they fit properly there is no reason why you should slide or shuffle along. If they do not fit right this is exactly what you might have to do to stop them from falling off. This is not good, and it’s not normal. It means the flip flops are ill-fitting and unsafe to walk in and you need a new pair!
How should flip flops fit?
In our little ‘how to walk in flip flops’ guide you’ll notice we mentioned the importance of the right fit several times. We mentioned that there should be a 1/2 of visible sole all around and that the upper thongs should not be so tight that they dig into your foot.
When people are buying the kind of very inexpensive flip flops you might wear to the beach – the kind you’ll find at little beach shops along the boardwalk – they often don’t pay too much attention to fit.
That is a mistake though, as if the fit is not correct it’s more likely that you will fall when you walk, end the day in pain because the thongs rubbed your feet or end the day with no shoes because the fir was so poor the flip flops fell apart. So take those extra few minutes to find the right fit, even if the flip flops you are buying are $5 bargain buys.
Do flip flops stretch?
It depends very much on the type of flip flop. Rigid rubber thonged flip flops rarely stretch, simply because the material is very hard, but in the case of cloth or leather upper flip flops it is a possibility over time, especially in the case of a fabric based flip flop.However, if you are hoping that flip flops that are too small will break in so that you can wear them more comfortably then that is unlikely to happen and the better option will always be to return them and get flip flops that fit properly.
Do flip flops run small?
Whether or not flip flops run small depends upon the specific brand. It may also depend very much upon where you are. For example, Asian and European shoe sizes are very different to US shoe sizes.
Here’s a case in point; a size 7 in US womens flip flops is approximately the same as a size as a 5 1/2 in the UK, and a 39 in European sizing. But it would be a 38 1/2 in Asian sizing and a 39 in South American sizing. So, if you are on vacation in a foreign land be prepared to convert your shoe size into local sizing for the best fit.
This can also be a problem when buying online. Not all of the size charts included in online listings are very accurate. Reading the reviews can help, as people will often specifically mention if a flip flop runs small or large, or if they are unusually wide or narrow. However to be on the safe side don’t buy them unless you are sure you’ll be able to return them if they don’t fit.
Are flip flops bad for your feet?
The answer is yes, and no, at least according to many podiatrists and other foot health experts. On the plus side, when they are worn on the beach, or poolside, or in a locker room flip flops provide basic protection for your feet and are preferable to walking barefoot on the slippy wet tile you’ll find there.
Wearing flip flops in public locker rooms will also protect you from a lot of nasty bacteria that can cause all kinds of infections and even illnesses like pneumonia, so doing so is actually a very good idea. Flip flops are also a nice cool alternative to slippers when worn at home and some of the dressier options can be perfectly suitable for a casual night out at the local beach bar.
Where they should be worn however is also important to know. They are not really suitable for very long walks and they aren’t great for playing sports – even beach volleyball – either.
The problem is, apart from the fact that they may fall off when worn during these more vigorous activities, is that flip flops usually offer no heel cushioning, no arch support and no shock absorbing properties. This means that with extended wear you can end up with nasty foot pain and may even end up suffering from a painful condition like tendinitis.
Unfortunately, many people find this out the hard way when they are on vacation. It seems like such a great idea to be able to kick off their closed constricting footwear and slip into a cool pair of flip flops. And as they are on vacation, and everything is nice and relaxed, they may intend to spend most of their time in flip flops. Until the foot pain sets in, after trying to spend an afternoon at a theme park in them.
There are, however, a few companies that offer orthopedic flip flops. These are not really designed for long, long wear either, but they do allow people with foot conditions like flat feet to wear flip flops to the beach where they might not have really been able to before.
There’s also a little bit more, when it comes to the downsides of flip flops. Remember these lines from Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville? “I blew out my flip-flop. Stepped on a pop top. Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home”? Most flip flops don’t offer you too much protection from sharp objects and rocks, and you are, of course, at a much greater risk for stubbed toes!
Therefore it’s always best to pack a nice, light pair of walking shoes when you are going on vacation along with your flip flops, unless you really do not intend to go any further than the pool for the duration of your stay.
How long should flip flops last?
As is the case for many other forms of footwear, how long flip flops last depends on the quality of both the materials used and construction of the flip flop itself.
Cheap rubber beach flip flops really aren’t designed to last long, and even fairly sturdy ones may not quite make it through an entire summer without needing to be replaced.
Flip flops are, however, changing. A growing number of companies, including some big name designer labels, along with almost all of the major sports shoe manufacturers, now offer their own takes on the standard flip flop, and if you are paying anywhere from $30-$150 for a pair of flip flops you have every right to expect at least a few years wear out of them.
The one thing you should not do, however much they cost, is hold onto flip flops that are no longer safe to walk in. If the soles are very worn, the toe post is cracking or the thongs themselves are beginning to fray they may no longer be very safe to walk in and should be replaced asap.
Why do Australians and New Zealanders Call Flip Flops Thongs?
The biggest reason is that, technically the toe post on a flip flop is a thong, as the dictionary defines a thong as any thin piece of material, although the term originally referred to leather. In the US a thong is usually a skimpy underwear item of course, so using the ‘Aussie term’ for slip slops might cause some embarrassment and confusion.
It is not only the Australians who have a different term for flip flops though. In Poland they are referred to as japonki. In Brazil, where they are worn often, flip flops are called chinelos. In Japan, which was from where the idea of wearing flip flops came to the US from – via soldiers returning to the US after World War II – they are called zori and are often worn with socks.
Why do we call them flip flops in the US and the UK? It’s usually assumed because that is the noise they make as you walk in them. Which brings us to another question we’ve seen asked before; can you stop that flip flop noise? The simple answer to that is no, so if it’s a sound that annoys you then opting for a pair of sandals that hug your foot at all times is a better choice, as they won’t make that flip, flip, flip noise at all.