They can be convenient, popular and (debatably) cute, especially in tropical Singapore. But as the name of this footwear suggests, they’re a complete flop, because what you might not know is that they can lead to potential injuries and foot pain or diseases.
The lack of heel cushioning and arch support in flip-flops means they absorb shock poorly when walking, causing heel pain and foot pain. For instance, the strong impacts to the feet can cause the tissue connecting the heel bone and toes to become painfully inflamed in a condition known as plantar fasciitis.
Without proper arch support, people with exceptionally high or low foot arches have the tendency to lean their feet excessively outwards or inwards when walking. Their legs will rotate to the side and their knees and hips will flex unnaturally as a result. Creating discomfort in the joints of the knees and hips, eventually causing knee pain when walking.
With flimsy straps, flip-flops force your toes to curl and grip the surface of the shoe to keep them from falling off. Repeating this motion over a long period of time can cause inflamed tendons from overuse or lead to foot deformities such as hammertoes/mallet toes where the toe joints bend abnormally. This condition that causes foot pain can be so severe that some individuals may require surgery.
A study comparing flip-flops with comfortable sneakers also revealed that people who wore flip-flops needed greater effort to walk the same distance and have awkward gaits due to this gripping motion.
Due to the way that flip-flops leave a large portion of your feet exposed, other than foot pain such as plantar fasciitis, it makes your feet more susceptible to injuries from glass cuts, stabbed toes or falling objects. This becomes more dangerous for those with diabetes, who may experience nerve damage and become less sensitive to small cuts and sores on their feet. If these wounds are left unattended, these small wounds can become ulcers that continue to fester, causing even more foot pain, and in the most extreme cases, eventually call for amputation.
Other than physical or muscle related foot-pain, the exposure of the feet makes you more susceptible to bacterial infections and foot/toenail fungus, such as staph infections that irritate the unprotected skin on your feet. In rare cases, these infections can be lethal if the bacteria infiltrates deeper past the skin surface through open wounds.
If Not Flip-Flops, then What?
We know flip-flops are easy and convenient, especially on a busy schedule, but don’t you worry because you do not have to sacrifice those features with the alternatives we are suggesting.
You should always look for footwear that come with toe-boxes, such as comfortable shoes or comfortable sneakers that come with arch support and well-cushioned, thick soles. If you’re pursuing the light and airy feeling of flip-flops, sandals can be a better choice as they often have more straps to secure them to your feet, reducing any strains that can cause heel pain or foot pain.
However, if you still insist on wearing flip-flops— and we understand how irreplaceable they can be — look for ones with wider and more extensive straps. Some flip-flops also have thicker padding or arch support at the heel area that can help you absorb shock. If you don’t have much luck finding a better pair, try to cut down the time you spend on them at least. While flip-flops can be cute and convenient, it’d be prudent to remember that there’s nothing ‘cute’ about putting your body at risk.
The real dangers of flip flops - https://www.orthobethesda.com/blog/the-real-dangers-of-flip-flops/
Are flip-flops bad for your feet? - https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/HealthU/2019/08/22/are-flip-flops-bad-for-your-feet/
Why flip-flops can cause plantar fasciitis - https://www.scripps.org/news_items/3936-can-flip-flops-cause-plantar-fasciitis
Flip-Flops fun but Beware of Foot Pain - https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/flip-flops-fun-but-not-great-for-feet#1
How Your Flip Flops Are Killing Your Feet - https://www.huffpost.com/entry/flip-flops-foot-problems_n_3569222?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAAoJAoQCU1SJ3WNqcP2eLvu1J8hrpDhYjkDBXr3xquNyBmVC40g-fbBC5pFGTiOYVRS5Tla9OIvFgk6S72jXRFjCqkJ5LSu4NAVPkkMPhEsGuKScL8fqTVEaqiEqhlG8KNslSX3K4MlUlFpO95VnhUJEpr9LwDqkWAko_U8iAnfd
All Foot Health Articles - https://www.everydayhealth.com/foot-health/flip-flops-the-most-dangerous-shoes-you-can-wear.aspx
Influence of sneakers versus flip-flops on attack angle and peak vertical force at heel contact - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232149144_Influence_of_Sneakers_versus_Flip-flops_on_Attack_Angle_and_Peak_Vertical_Force_at_Heel_Contact_1920_Board_84_May_29_330_PM-_500_PM
Comparative analysis of human gait while wearing thong-style flip-flops versus sneakers - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20660875/#:~:text=Flip%2Dflops%20resulted%20in%20a,stance%20time%20compared%20with%20sneakers.