Are My Sandals Hurting My Feet?

Perhaps the only feeling better than “shorts weather” is “sandals weather.” Warm air on mostly uncovered feet tends to be comfortable and relaxing, but are sandals really good for you?

Like any type of shoe, sandals come in a wide variety, and not all sandals are created equal. Some sandals are made with more arch support than others. Thongs, more often referred to by their onomatopoeic name flip-flops, are some of the most popular styles of sandals. They are also some of the most dangerous to podiatric health.

Certainly flip-flops have some benefits. Many people find them extremely comfortable. They provide some basic protection to the soles of feet for people walking around poolside and offer a barrier between bare feet and bacteria in locker rooms and public showers. However, the flat slab of light material barely held to the foot with a little V-shaped strap may not provide the support your feet need for long periods of time. The nature of sandals is to provide little cover to the foot. This lack of protection leads to increased risk of minor injuries, such as stubbed toes, cuts, scrapes, scratches, and even broken toes. This lack of protection also increases the likelihood of falling, often leading to injuries such as sprained or fractured ankles. Additionally, flip-flops typically do not offer much, if any, arch support, heel cushioning, or shock absorption.

In the short-term, flip-flops may lead to aches and pains in the feet, particularly in the heels and arches. Wearing flip-flops on a regular basis in the warm months, however, may lead to more serious problems than temporary discomfort. The lack of support over time may lead to plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, or a number of other chronic conditions. Since the feet are the foundation of the body’s activity, inadequate support for the feet may lead to pains in other areas of the body, including knees, hips, and the back.

When engaging in intense physical activity or walking for a long period of time, podiatrists recommend ditching the flip-flops and opting for a sturdier shoe with better support.

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