Flip-flops: they’re easy to slip on, pretty cheap to buy, and they come in all kinds of patterns. If you want a flip-flop decorated with a selfie-stick wielding gorilla, it’s out there (yes – seriously). Plaid ones, flying pig ones, and those emblazoned on the bottoms with a personal message that you leave in the sand behind you. Whatever you’re into, you can probably find a flip-flop to match.

We get it. They’re fun and expressive, but as podiatrists we have to rain on your summer footwear parade. Flip-flops are a bit better than going barefoot, but not by much. They do protect the soles of your feet but they’re really lacking in the support department. Here’s why we don’t love it when our patients wear flip flops:

  • People wear them too much. If you don’t switch off wearing flip-flops with other types of shoes, your feet are constantly unsupported. Think about it: you’re living in a flat piece of rubber and a thong that rests on top of your foot. Where’s the support? Constant lack of support can lead to injuries like Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. Flip-flops are great for getting around the pool deck or the beach but don’t make a habit of wearing them all the time.
  • Your feet are open to the elements. Since so much of your foot is exposed while wearing flip-flops, they’re unprotected from insect bites, cuts, scrapes, bruising, and other wounds.
  • They overwork your toes. Because there’s no back strap, your toes are forced to bend and grip rubber in order to keep them on your feet. This can cause tendonitis and hammertoes.
  • They affect the way you drive. Studies have shown that it takes longer for drivers to move their foot from the accelerator to the brake when they’re wearing flip-flops. And, it’s not uncommon for a flip-flop to get caught under one of the pedals. Either one of these conditions increases your risk of a car accident.

So wear your flip-flops in moderation. If you do incur a foot or ankle injury while wearing flip-flops, be sure to consult with northern Virginia’s board-certified podiatrist Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center. Our number in Centreville is (703) 996-3000. Click here to make an appointment online.

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