Have you noticed that your heels are hurting more this summer or that you have pain in the arch of your foot? At Connecticut Foot Care Centers, our next question would be: “How much time are you spending in flip-flops?” These popular summer shoes are easy to slip on and the favorites of many patients, but flip-flops were never designed for all-day, everyday wear.
Why They Flop
Part of what attracts people to flip-flops is precisely their primary shortcoming: there’s nothing there. While you may enjoy the freedom that having very little material on or around your foot brings, it also leaves your foot vulnerable to a host of foot and ankle problems.
- No arch support—when your foot hits the ground flat with each step, it puts a strain on the long band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot, the plantar fascia. When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed from an excessive amount of time wearing flip-flops, you develop plantar fasciitis and your arch and heel can begin to hurt quite badly. Good arch support is essential for avoiding foot pain.
- Lack of cushioning—traditional flip-flops have only a thin layer of rubber between the bottom of your foot and the surface you’re walking on. This means a lack of shock absorption and leads to pain in the ball and heel of your foot.
- No protection—because there is no footbed or material surrounding your foot, it is nearly impossible for your foot to stay in place. Flip-flop wearers have a high risk of ankle sprains. The opportunity for cuts, scrapes and toe stubs is also greatly increased.
The Flip Side
The one scenario where flip-flops are an appropriate shoe choice is at the pool, lake or ocean. Worn briefly in these settings, flip-flops can help prevent fungal infections like athlete’s foot and protect your feet from burns as you go from the parking area to your beach blanket.
If you are unwilling to give up your flip-flops, look for manufacturers that are adding support and other features to address common flip-flop flaws. If you are experiencing foot pain or would like shoe recommendations, contact one of our six Hartford and Middlesex County offices today and talk to our podiatrists Jeffrey S. Kahn, D.P.M., Craig M. Kaufman, D.P.M., Ayman M. Latif, D.P.M. or Raffaella R. Pascarella, D.P.M.