Summer is officially in full swing and now that the weather is all hot and humid people everywhere are taking it easy and going into vacation mode. For most of us that means kicking off our shoes and going barefoot, but when we do have to go somewhere we usually just stick our feet in a pair of sandals or flip-flops.
Who doesn’t own at least one pair of flip-flops? Not only are they the most convenient and classic summer footwear option, they also help to keep feet cool and comfortable. However, that’s about all that they’re good for! Flip-flops are actually terrible for our feet and the rest of our bodily health and wellness. Once you read on about why this is so, and just how bad they truly are, you’ll definitely think twice before you spend hours on end in your flippies this summer.
Here’s why podiatrists and doctors agree that the rubber-soled footwear should only be worn poolside, at the beach, or in gym showers:
- Injuries- Every year flip-flops are responsible for countless foot injuries that range from minor to severe because they offer the feet practically zero support. A lack of arch and heel support, combined with the fact that they make us walk awkwardly to begin with, are what leads to pain and strain on our feet. The most common injuries that people seek treatment for are things like tendinitis, stress fractures, and heel, arch, or muscle pains. Other problems you can expect to experience from wearing them include cuts and scrapes, jammed toes, rolled ankles, infections, sunburn, bunions, blisters, knee pain, hip pain, back pain, hammertoe, pinched nerves, and the list goes on.
- They Trip You Up- Flip-flops are definitely not the most graceful things to walk around in. They actually cause us to walk really clumsily and it’s super easy to get tripped up by the shoes. Whether someone steps on the back of them while you’re walking or you manage to catch up the front end, they can throw you off balance in a second. Another hazard they present is slipperiness, it’s easy for feet to slide around in them, especially when they get wet or sweaty.
- Toxic Materials- Those five dollar flip-flops you see being sold at stores are priced so low for a reason; they’re cheaply made! Many of the plastics and materials that go into making them are low quality and can be poisonous or toxic to human health. Many feature plastics that contain BPA which has been linked to cancer and other serious risks. Latex is also widely used, which many people are allergic to, and so it’s best to forgo the cheap plastic versions. Instead, look for ones made with leather, suede, cork, fabrics, and other natural types of materials that don’t pose such a serious threat to your health.
- Gross Infections- The open, airy style may allow feet to ‘breathe’ but that comes at a price. Flip-flops expose your feet and toes to all sorts of germs, dirt, bacteria, fungus, and other nasty things that can lead to an infection. A number of studies have found that flip-flops pick up and hold a heck of a lot more bacteria than ordinary shoes. This was found to be especially true when people wore them anywhere in public, like at the gym or in restrooms where gross things thrive. Dangerous pathogens such as Staphylococcus and E. coli can easily find their way into any open sore, wound, or cut and wreak havoc on your health. While most people experience mild infections like Athlete’s foot, some have had to have their toes or feet amputated because they picked up a particularly dangerous strain of something.
- Blisters- Albeit a minor problem in light of the other more serious flip-flop issues, blisters are painful to deal with nonetheless and can lead to further complications. Flip-flops are all but held on to the foot by those two measly little straps that cross over the top of it. This design means that when you walk the straps inevitably rub against your skin. Sometimes this leads to chaffing, irritation, and blisters form which, if and when they pop open, you’re exposed to more bacteria and possible infection.
- They Slow You Down- The loose fitting shoes change your gait and in effect they slow people down. Findings from an Auburn University study showed that those who wear flip-flops often take smaller sized steps than their sneaker wearing counterparts. Anyone who has ever worn them knows this already because it’s virtually impossible to run for more than ten feet in the darn things!