I just returned from a glorious trip to the beach where, of course, the favored footwear was the ubiquitous flip flop. Blingy, sporty, wedged, rubber, leather, plastic, cork, or fabric. Name your style, and there’s a flip flop to accommodate.
It seems as though we all love our FF’s, and girls are starting to wear them earlier and earlier.
Recently I learned some lesser-known hazards of wearing our favorite go-to shoe.
Thong effect-The thong in the middle of your FF is virtually the only thing keeping them on your feet. When you have a thong, you tend to grip it with your toes. That alters your gait and puts strain on muscles you don’t normally use when you walk in regular shoes.*
Slips, trips, falls. Last year, 25,300 shoe-related injuries were associated with wearing flip flops.* * That little thong has a big job when it comes to keeping you sure-footed.
The thong can actually rub against the skin causing blisters and sores. I got a blister when I was on my trip, and I worried about walking on the grungy street with all that sidewalk debris, before I could get to a band-aid.
Skin cancer-When you wear FF’s the skin on your foot is pretty much fully exposed to the sun. How many of us actually put sunscreen on our feet when we wear our flip flops? There is always a risk of skin cancer. And cancerous spots are easy to miss on the feet, especially if they’re between the toes.
Driving-One of the biggest concerns with flip flops is that they can get wedged between the pedals of your car and make it difficult to brake quickly and effectively while driving. One study indicated that when wearing flip-flops it takes twice the amount of time to move between the gas and brake pedals, when compared to driving with wedge heels.
Poor Support-This one is pretty obvious, but wearing flip flops, on a daily basis, can cause possible foot, hip, knee, and back injuries. Lack of support can create serious problems in the arch and heel of the foot, including plantar fasciitis. (Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament that supports your arch. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament. These tears can lead to pain and swelling.)
But summer’s here and who can fathom giving up their bright, glittery, backless sandals? I wanted to share some tips I found to help out flip flop fanatics:
– Don’t be tempted to cheap-out when you buy flip flops. We’ve all seen those colorful, four-dollar FF’s that match our latest outfit. Shop for brands that offer arch support. Avoid rubber and plastic. Doctors say a soft, thick leather is best. A thicker sole will also protect your feet if you step on glass or a sharp object.
– Try not to wear your flip flops every day, or walk long distances in them. Once-upon-a-time FF’s were referred to as “shower shoes” and usually only worn at the pool or beach. Now they seem to be a 24/7 wardrobe staple.
– Don’t keep your FF’s forever. Just when you think you’ve broken them in is probably when you should throw them out, because there may be no more support left in them. Sorry…the truth hurts. But, better the truth than your precious feet.
– When choosing FF’s, use the “Bend Test.”** The middle of the flip flop should not bend easily, while the front of the FF should have some bend. (It’s no surprise that flimsy, rubber FF’s have the least support.)
The good news is you don’t have to give up your FF’s all together. Moderation is the key to wearing your favorite summer shoe. And there are loads of cute sandals out there that can give your feet the support they deserve.
So, happily, you can still be an occasional flip-flopper.
And if your flip flops don’t seem to make the grade or pass the “bend test,” you can always make a cute wreath out of them.
Credits: Auburn University Research,* NBC Today Show**