Unsplash / Kacey Nguyen
We all know flip-flops are comfortable to wear in warm weather. It’s hard to resist wearing them. But if you ask health experts, you should avoid wearing flip-flops at all costs. The footwear does more harm than good to your feet. Here are five reasons why you should never, ever wear flip-flops. To experts, they’re just not worth it.
They destroy your heels
When you wear flip-flops, your heels hit the ground with more force when there’s nothing but a small piece of foam separating your foot from the ground. This affects the heel-strike impact, eventually causing more pain, especially if you tend to stand or walk for an extended period of time.
Flip-flops also lack enough arch support. When you walk in flip-flops, you’re stepping flat, hitting the ball of your foot too hard. According to associate professor of podiatric medicine and clinic administrator of the Foot Center of New York Dr. Eunice Ramsey-Parker, “When you hit something long enough walking, it becomes irritated.”
You might even experience some swelling from an injury known as metatarsalgia. The swelling will diminish if you switch to more supportive shoes. So, to take care of your feet, stop wearing flip-flops. It’s that easy.
They change your posture
You probably didn’t think your shoes control your posture, but they do. When you wear flip-flops, the shoes don’t bend your foot properly, altering your biomechanics and your posture. Effective arch support keeps your knees, heels, and back aligned. Without that support, your joints compensate, eventually causing heel pain and pinched nerves in the back. In addition, you might notice your stride has changed since wearing flip-flops. That’s because your body is trained to use the heel-toe stride used in normal, closed-toe shoes. When you change your shoes, your body naturally begins taking small strides to keep you stable. Dr. Ramsey Parker adds, “It’s going to be very halted, very pressured steps.”
Exposure to bacteria
When you wear flip-flops in public, you might as well be walking around barefoot. Your feet are exposed to more bacteria than if you were wearing closed-toe shoes. This bacterium, like Staphylococcus, can irritate the skin on your foot. If you have any open wounds on your feet, this exposure could lead to severe cases, even amputation. You have probably heard about Athlete’s foot, an itchy fungal infection considered highly contagious. The foot condition is usually spread by contact with contaminated surfaces. When you wear flip-flops, basically walking around barefoot, if you’re exposed to this fungus, there’s nothing to protect your feet from the infection.
They damage your toes
Flip-flops are floppy, flimsy shoes. You probably need to curl your toes down to keep them from flying off your feet while you walk. If you wear them long enough, your toes bend and stay in a position that looks like a hammer, otherwise known as hammertoe. Your toes are working extra hard, but due to this position, you’ll often feel stiffness, pain, and you might eventually need surgery to correct the foot problem. To avoid this condition, wear sandals with a thick strap midfoot and another strap behind the ankle.
Causing sprained ankles
It’s okay to wear flip-flops while you’re relaxing at the beach, but you shouldn’t wear them on a daily basis. Because they don’t offer any arch support, your feet will start to turn toward the middle of your body instead of staying straight. When that happens, it increases the likelihood of spraining your ankle. Dr. Ramsey-Parker says, “They [Flip-flops] don’t have support, they twist their ankle in or out.”
All of these problems can be avoided if you wear closed-toe shoes. They offer more support and protection. Who wouldn’t want that? While you might love to wear flip-flops, it’s time to ditch them. Your feet deserve better.