Flip-Flops: Summer Friend or Foe?

See full size imageWith the recent surge in temperatures and bright, sunny days in the Seattle/Bellevue area, it is easy to spot the return of this summer staple on every corner:  the flip-flop.  True, they’re cute and generally inexpensive choices for your feet, but too much use can lead to problems.  The average flip does not have any arch support, which can lead to overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis or tendonitis.  The wearer also tends to grip the flip with their toes, potentially leading to strain on the toe joints and smaller, aka “intrinsic”  muscles of the feet.  Plus, the general lack of cushioning can lead to soreness in the bottom of the heel and ball of the foot.

So, does this mean that you should get rid of all of your flip-flops?  My advice for the average foot without any history of foot problems is “no”, but try to reserve them for times when you are not doing excessive standing and walking.  I, too, have a $5.00 pink pair from Old Navy that are a couple of years old, and still seem to come out of the closet every weekend.  That being said, there are some much better choices available from a foot health perspective…

Crocs, Birkenstocks, Teva, and Merrell are just a few brands that have more support and cushioning.  They also tend to have more straps to keep the sandal on your foot.  If you do wear orthotics, don’t feel that you have to stop doing so just to wear a nice sandal.  Stores such as Shoes-N-Feet and The Walking Company tend to carry several athletic and dress/casual models that accomodate orthotics.

Above all, listen to your feet.  If you are having increasing soreness and think it may be related to a poor choice of summer shoe (sorry, flip-flops), switch to supportive athletic or lace-up shoes for a while.  If the problems persists, see your podiatrist!