Flip Flops: Hot Summer Fashion Choice or Serious Health Hazard?

iStock_000005723770MediumSummertime is the season for flip-flops, but could your fashion choice be leading to more serious health problems? A recent study from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) has shed some light on the dangers of wearing your favorite flip-flops  during the summer months, reports Greensboro podiatrist, Dr. Norman Regal of the Triad Foot & Ankle Center.

The study, which was commissioned by a New York City and Florida Podiatrist, along with the APMA, looked at the various areas of the foot and how wearing flip-flops damage and strain your feet. While the study reinforced obvious opinions against wearing flip-flops, like the increased dangers of injury as a result of a lack of protection from falling objects and stubbed toes, it was also found that your open-toed footwear could be infested with bacteria. The study cited statistics from a 2009 Today Show report, which found there were over 18,000 bacteria, including bacterial traces from fecal matter, on just one pair of flip-flops.

The study also revealed that wearing flip-flops cause:

  • Blisters: The lack of support flip-flops provide cause an increase in rubbing and friction, which can cause blisters between the toes and where the strap connects to the sole. Blisters can also occur on the bottom of your feet from the bottom of your foot sliding around the sole.
  • Toe Problems:  Long-term flip-flop wearing can affect your toe muscles.  Because only a strap is holding your foot in your shoe, your toes have to grip the bottom of the shoe to keep your foot in place.  This can lead to tendonitis over time, as well as hammer toes and bunions.
  • Arch Pain: The lack of support flip-flops provide can lead to damage in the arch of your foot, and inflame the muscle in your foot, which is called Plantar Fascia. An inflamed Plantar Fascia can cause arch pain, the foot to collapse and your foot to flatten out.
  • Alter Walking Pattern:  As a result of the lack of support, people will tend to take shorter steps, shuffle, and allow the heel of the foot to strike the ground less vertical when wearing flip-flops. This can affect your natural gait, causing irritation and inflammation in your ankles, back, knees and hips, as well as increase the risk of developing stress fractures due to wearing shoes without shock absorption.

“Flip-flops are a popular footwear fashion choice during the spring and summer months, but there are dangers associated with wearing this type of shoe for long periods of time,” says Dr. Regal, a Triad podiatrist at the Triad Foot Center.  “Your feet are essentially the foundation of your body and once there is a crack in that foundation, it will create problems for the rest of your body. This is why it is critical to understand the risks associated with wearing flip-flops, so you can make better decisions for your foot health.”

If you are experiencing foot pain as a result of wearing flip flops over the last couple months, it’s important that you talk to your podiatrist to make sure it isn’t a symptom of a more serious problem. The podiatry experts at Triad Foot can help you understand the risks associate with improper footwear and provide solutions to alleviate your foot pain.

Triad Foot Center has three locations in the Triad—Greensboro, Burlington and Asheboro.  Book your appointment and begin living your life foot pain-free.

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