Is it bad to wear flip-flops? | Raleigh Orthopaedic (2024)

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 25,000 people visit the emergency room every year for flip-flop related injuries. Flip-flops have a bad reputation because of their lack of support, protection, cushioning and lack of functionality. The positive about flip-flops is convenience; they are easy to wear.

Does wearing flip-flops damage your feet?

There are several foot and ankle conditions that can develop from wearing flip-flops for casual, everyday use. While wearing flip-flops, most people tend to increase toe-curling because it helps hold the shoe on. Short term, this may cause tendinitis. Wearing flip flops too often, or long term, can cause bunions or hammer toes to develop. Hammer toes occur when the joints contract, causing your toe to bend abnormally.

Flip-flops also cause a shorter stride in walking, leading to possible tightness of the Achilles, which may result in Achilles tendinitis. Additionally, the absence of arch support could lead to inflammation and plantar fasciitis. Without proper shock absorption in flip flops, stress fractures can occur in the bones of the feet. Wearing flip flops while standing or walking for long periods of time can cause minute cracks in your foot bones.

Is it bad to wear flip-flops? | Raleigh Orthopaedic (1)

Foot Structure

Flip-flops are fine for some people and not for others. Eighty-five percent of people in the United States have reasonably ‘normal’ feet; therefore, periodic flip-flop wearing is tolerable. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, a normal foot is defined as not having a significant high arch or flatfoot deformity with good motion of the ankle and hindfoot joints. If you have a normal foot and your activity level is low (such as walking or standing on a level surface for a few hours at a time), then flip-flop wearing is reasonable and similar to walking barefoot.

The problems come when individuals have deformities, poor balance or numb feet. For these individuals, flip-flops do not provide adequate support, can be dangerously unstable and do not adequately protect the feet.

Flip-flops can also be harmful for those with flat feet because the shoes do not provide much support. A study conducted by Auburn University found that flip-flops can cause ankle, leg and feet pain for those with flat feet or other foot problems. Researchers found that flip-flop wearers take shorter steps and their heels hit the ground with less vertical force than when wearing athletic shoes.

Flip-flops should also not be worn during sporting events, especially any type of running, or jumping due to their lack of support and protection. Try to avoid uneven ground due to the instability of the flip-flop on the foot. Do not wear flip-flops when driving, as they may come off and get caught in the brake or accelerator pedals. Do not wear flip-flops when doing yard work due to the risk of injuries from rocks or debris, and to prevent animal bites. Do not wear them when riding a motorcycle, around machinery or power tools to prevent injury.

Flip-flops are great at a pool or beach, as they protect from hot concrete and sand, but don’t forget to protect your feet with sunscreen. They are good for short distances, such as going to the grocery store for a few items. Flip-flops are best on flat surfaces. Flip-flops are also great for public showers to avoid warts or fungus. In conclusion, for a normal foot, flip-flops are a reasonable shoe wear option in moderation.

Are there safe alternatives?

Not all flip-flops are created equal. Flip-flops should be stiffer and only bend at the forefoot where the toes join the foot. Bending in other locations is not ideal but can be tolerated for short periods of time. Some arch support in the flip-flop is better than none. More cushioning is also better than less. Flip-flops with more than one strap to hold the shoe on are more stable to prevent blistering. Accurate sizing is critical; there should not be any overhang while wearing flip-flops.

Is it bad to wear flip-flops? | Raleigh Orthopaedic (2)


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Is it bad to wear flip-flops? | Raleigh Orthopaedic (2024)


Is it bad to wear flip-flops? | Raleigh Orthopaedic? ›

While wearing flip-flops, most people tend to increase toe-curling because it helps hold the shoe on. Short term, this may cause tendinitis. Wearing flip flops too often, or long term, can cause bunions or hammer toes to develop. Hammer toes occur when the joints contract, causing your toe to bend abnormally.

What happens if you only wear flip-flops? ›

In addition, wearing such non-supportive footwear for long periods can lead to other foot issues, including bunions and hammertoe. Further wearing sandals and flip-flops can permanently affect the way you walk, which in turn can cause problems with the knees, hips, and back.

Is it bad for your feet to wear flip-flops? ›

Flip flops can also exacerbate other types of foot pain, from bunions and hammertoes to tendonitis. And since your feet aren't covered or well-protected, you're at greater risk for stubbed toes, cuts, insect bites and infection.

Are flip-flops bad for neuropathy? ›

Aside from plantar fasciitis, can flip-flops cause neuropathy? Yes, neuropathy can result from exposing your feet to infections and injuries. Because shoe thongs don't offer any protection, your feet are more inclined to feeling numb and experiencing sharp burning or even stabbing sensations.

Why do podiatrists hate flip-flops? ›

Cunha. “I typically advise my patients NOT to wear flip-flops for prolonged periods of time, as this particular shoe allows our foot to collapse affecting our gait and posture, which can lead to a tremendous amount of stress not only to the foot but to the rest of the body,” he said.

What happens to your feet if you wear sandals all the time? ›

Blisters, Calluses, Bunions, and More – Sandals often cause blisters and calluses to form. Flip flops can also lead to bunions and a condition called hammertoe. This is because our feet work extra hard to maintain our balance in sandals, causing our toes to scrunch unnaturally and frequently.

Are flip-flops bad for circulation? ›

Although the podiatric medical association doesn't discourage the wearing of these tiny treads, it warns that people with circulation issues or diabetes, who generally have poor feeling in their feet, should avoid flip-flops.

Are flip-flops bad for arthritis? ›

Sandals and Flip-Flops

“For someone who has arthritis, very flat and thin flip-flops provide very little support,” says Dr. Cerrato. “But there are some flip-flops that have a cup in the heel and a little more substance for shock absorption, and those do offer more support.”

Are Crocs bad for your feet? ›

Lack of Support – While they may be comfortable, Crocs are far from the most supportive type of shoe. They provide very little support to your ankle and your arches, which can lead to soft tissue injuries. If your foot isn't supported in the midfoot area, you'll be at an increased risk for heel pain.

Is it better to walk barefoot or with flip-flops? ›

Walking barefoot can be better than walking in ill-fitting shoes, high heels, or flimsy flip-flops but there are a host of dangers that walking barefoot can bring on, from stepping on glass to acquiring an infection. Flip-flops should not replace sturdier casual footwear even if they look fashionable.

Why shouldn't you wear flip-flops? ›

Don't ignore irritation between toes, where the toe thong fits. Flip-flop straps can rub against your toes, leading to hard-to-heal blisters and possible infections. Don't wear flip-flops while walking long distances. Even the sturdiest flip-flops offer little value for shock absorption and arch support.

Can flip-flops cause a pinched nerve? ›

This extra pressure on your joints leads to overuse of your ligaments, which in turn leads to shooting, agonizing pain in your feet and legs. Common flip-flop-related pain includes plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, pinched back nerves, and inflammation of the Achilles tendon.

Are flip-flops bad for the knees? ›

The flip-flop style sandal offers no support, and only two simple straps hold the foot in place. Wearing flip-flops during extended periods of walking can cause serious foot, hip, knee, and back injuries. “When we use flip-flops as everyday footwear, the result is overworked tendons and an overstressed arch,” says Dr.

What shoes do podiatrists not recommend? ›

Podiatry Services
  • High heels.
  • Too flexible.
  • Slip on shoes.
  • Pointed toe box.
  • Flat sole.

Why do podiatrists not recommend Skechers? ›

Sketchers DO NOT have appropriate stability in the upper fabric and the heel counter to complement an orthotic. As such, you will probably find the orthotic redundant, or in worse case contributing to the cause of injury. Remember, an orthotic does 50% of the work. The shoe does the other 50%.

Do podiatrists recommend Fitflops? ›

Podiatrists sing this brand's praises for its ergonomic designs and features that lend arch support, absorb shock, and ward off painful high-pressure spots. In fact, foot doctors are such big fans of the company, a number of their styles were awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association's seal of approval.

Can you get flat feet from wearing flip-flops? ›

When you wear flip flops your feet flatten as your arch collapses simply because your flip flops lack arch support. The arch of your foot is supported by the plantar fascia, a thick, bowstring-like ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes.

Is it bad to walk long distances in flip-flops? ›

Ditch the flip-flops for sports or long periods of walking, and never run in flip-flops. With nothing protecting or holding the foot in place, there's a considerable risk of injury to your foot or ankle.

Is it OK to workout in flip-flops? ›

Sneakers and Running Shoes

It's imperative that you wear closed shoes when visiting your fitness center. That means you should never wear open-toed shoes, flip-flops, sandals, or slippers.


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