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Family Foot & Ankle

Flip-Flops and Your Feet

Flip FlopsWhereas certain holidays are officially recognized—and most people get time off of work to celebrate!—there are other, less-official ones people create. We aren’t sure who comes up with designations like National Tell a Fairy Tale Day (February 26), National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (August 8), or National Deviled Egg Day (November 2), but not all celebrate great things. Case in point: June 16 is National Flip-Flop Day (3rd Friday in June).

Admittedly, one day of wearing flip-flops in June will probably not have a long-lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of your feet. Understanding how flip-flops affect feet, though, can illustrate why you should consider different footwear choices in the summer (and especially if you would otherwise spend a lot of time walking around in them).

There are many different colors and styles when it comes to this particular type of footwear—and flip-flops can actually protect the bottom of your feet from hot surfaces (like pool decks or sand on the beach baking under the summer sun all day long)—so we understand that they do have a certain degree of allure. What people usually don’t consideration, however, is that flip-flops fail to provide you with sufficient heel cushioning and arch support.

Without even factoring in summer footwear, plantar fasciitis is the leading cause of heel pain for adults. Flip-flops contribute to the prevalence of the condition, since they do not support the foot arch. This places additional strain on the plantar fascia, and the connective tissue responds by becoming inflamed and irritated. In addition to issues caused by plantar fasciitis—including sharp heel pain with your first steps in the morning—the lack of arch support can contribute to overpronation.

Another issue with flip-flops is the fact they typically have only a thin piece of material between the toes to keep the thin sandals on your feet. To keep your feet from falling out, you will likely rely on your toes to grip the flip-flop fronts. Doing so overworks the tendons and muscles in your feet and toes, and can potentially result in a case of tendonitis or contribute to an existing hammertoe condition.

One final problem with flip-flops is how you carry your feet when wearing them. The lack of arch support, scrunched toes, and absence of adequate cushioning all add up to a situation wherein you actually start to walk differently than you naturally do. We refer to this as a change in your gait, and it can contribute to the development of pain and issues not only in your feet, but all the way up your legs – hitting the knee and hip joints, and even your back.

Your choice in footwear plays an essential role in the health of your feet, but don’t forget that so too is coming to see our medical team when you need professional care! We provide comprehensive foot care services at Family Foot & Ankle Center, so give us a call at (513) 728-4800 to request an appointment with one of our Cincinnati area offices.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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