Flip-Flop Failures

Some people out there have too much time on their hands. There are probably countless examples of this, but let’s focus on the individuals who create “holidays” for just about every day of the year. Some of the more important ones—that you won’t get time off of work to celebrate (unless you have the best boss ever)—include:

Flip FlopsAs strange as some of these are—and National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day made the list—not all of these less-than-official holidays aren’t the greatest things to celebrate. Case in point, June 16 was National Flip-Flop Day (always the third Friday in June).

Admittedly, wearing flip-flops on a single day in June is probably not going to have a long-lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of your feet … depending on what you do that day! If you throw on a pair to go to your mailbox, that’s fine. If you throw on a pair to walk the dog, that’s not fine. If you throw on a pair and then go for a long hike in Ft. Ben, that’s REALLY not fine.

Now, if you’re thinking, “Who would wear flip-flops to go hiking?”, spend some time at the park this summer and pay attention to what people wear. You’ll see them! Even worse is I have watched tourists hiking along the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, in flip-flops. Please save these for the beach or poolside where looking "cute" is at a premium. Logs, rocks, stone steps, and trails don't care if you just had a pedi and will punish you for this mistake.

Understanding how flip-flops affect feet can show why you really need to “respect the feet” and consider different footwear choices in the summer.

Flip-flops don’t provide any arch support and usually very little in the way of cushioning for the heels. Without that arch support, the risk of plantar fasciitis is heightened. That’s bad news, because plantar fasciitis is already the most common source of heel pain for adults—even those who wouldn’t think about wearing flimsy footwear.

Another problem with flip-flops is how people carry their weight when wearing them. Since the heel isn’t anchored, there is an abnormal amount of force placed on the front of the foot, especially the metatarsal bone at the base of the second toe. This causes a potentially bad condition known as capsulitis. In this injury, the ligaments surrounding the joint at the base of the toe have become inflamed. Other symptoms include pain, improper joint function, and increased risk of stress fractures.

Finally, toes that are usually scrunched in an unnatural position as the try to keep the sandal on the foot. Doing so places extra strain on the tendons and muscles in your feet and toes. The overworked tendons can result in tendonitis or exacerbate an existing hammertoe condition.

So let's agree that hiking boots are not for dances and parties and flip-flops are not for hiking, walking the dog, or cutting the grass. If you are going to wear sandals, make sure you wear ones that are more supportive and are designed with your feet—and how they actually work—in mind. Need recommendations? Contact our office and your go-to foot doc will be happy to help!

In the event you hike often, or are simply looking for a versatile, comfortable pair of footwear, you should consider picking up a pair of hiking boots. Before you think “But those are so clunky and heavy,” you should know that many models nowadays are lightweight, flexible, and have exceptional grip. Your ankles will be greatly supported and they are great for a natural pronation pattern.

Obviously, footwear choices play an essential role in the health of your feet, so make sure you choose ones that are activity-appropriate. Don’t forget that so too is coming to our Indianapolis podiatrist office when you need effective, professional foot or ankle care! Give us a call at (317) 545-0505 if you have any questions or need to request an appointment.

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