Summer is here, and it has many of us wearing sandals or flip flops around the Twin Cities to beat the heat. While flip flops can be an inexpensive, casual and comfortable change from the sturdy footwear we’re forced to wear during the colder months in Minnesota, many styles provide little support and can actually damage feet when worn for long periods.

At Twin Cities Foot and Ankle Clinic, we understand that wearing flip flops is a summer tradition and something many of our patients look forward to. So, go ahead and enjoy them, but wear them sparingly and choose flip flops with good arch support.

Cheap Flip Flops Can Be Painful

You can find thong-sandals for as little as a dollar a pair! The good news is, for less than $20, you could buy a new pair every week over the course of the summer. The bad news is, that $20 investment may leave you with foot, ankle, leg or back pain that sidelines you for most of the winter.

One study suggests that gait and posture changes that occur while walking in flip‐flops may contribute to lower extremity leg pain and are counterproductive to alleviating existing leg pain.

Why Do Flip Flops Hurt My Feet?

Cheap flip flops lack what every good pair of shoes has: support. Common problems with flip flops usually occur because they lack the following:

  • Arch Support
  • Ankle Support
  • Heel Support
  • Toe Protection
  • Heel Cushion

When we walk, we typically land on the back bottom of the heel, then roll forward through the arch of the foot and onto the ball of the foot. Wearing flip flops may affect the natural pronation of our feet, causing imbalances in the distribution of weight across each foot and affecting our range of motion. Because flip flops are loose fitting and prone to falling off, we tend to slide our feet forward, or land flat-footed with each stride (ouch, those arches!).

Types of Damage Thong-Sandals Can Cause

Over time, wearing flat flip flops with a rubber sole may cause underlying issues, such as hammertoes or bunions, to become apparent, plus heel and arch pain, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints and other painful conditions may occur. As the body compensates for this pain, problems with the knees, hips and back may develop. Thong-type sandals can cause:

  • Stone Bruises
  • Shin Splints
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • Hammer Toes
  • Bunions
  • Arch Pain
  • Heel or Toe Fractures
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Heel Spurs
  • Ankle Sprains
  • Stress Fractures
  • Pain and Swelling in the Ankle Joint

What to Look for When Buying Flip Flops

This isn’t to say that there aren’t quality flip flops available on the market. While you might have to lay out a little more cash for a pair of thong-sandals that provide the comfort and support your feet need, they’re usually worth the cost, especially for people with plantar fasciitis and other foot issues.

High-quality thong-sandals should last the entire summer, maybe even two or three summers. Plus, you probably won’t have to visit a physician or chiropractor to address the damage caused by flapping around in cheap rubber sandals for hours on end.

Look for flip-flops that have a stiff sole with a little give where the toes and foot join. This will provide some stability. Choose a style with arch support and heel cups, as well as a cushioned heel area for shock absorption. An added bonus would be adjustable straps that can be modified to hold the shoe snug to your foot.

Call TC Foot & Ankle Clinic with Questions!

Don’t make flip flops your summer shoe of choice. Wear them for short periods, such as to the beach, pool or shower, and never wear them on extended walks. If you have questions about choosing flip flops with good arch support and other key features, give Twin Cities Foot and Ankle Clinic in Golden Valley and Woodbury, MN a call!