In simpler times, flip-flops were a highly-specialized type of shoe we packed for the beach or boardwalk, or perhaps for washing our car. Sometime between the endless summers of our childhoods and the too-brief respites of our mortgage-paying years, those cheap plastic thongs have become ubiquitous. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, people have taken to wearing them everywhere from grocery store aisles to offices and houses of worship. But as much as we may fret the decline in summer sartorial standards this represents, we fear the strain flip-flops can place upon our health and well-being even more.
An eighth of all shoe-related emergency room visits in 2014 were attributed to flip-flops according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission on Emergency Room visits. This is an amazing statistic given than this particular set of footwear is worn only 3 to 4 months out of the year in most regions.
Flip-flops lack any kind of foot support whatsoever. They offer no arch support, shock absorption or heel cushioning. This translates into foot pain, tendinitis, and even sprained ankles if the flip-flopper trips – the source of the most common flip-flop induced ER visits.
But it's not just the ankle injuries that are ringing the emergency room door bells. Stubbed toes, glass cuts, and puncture wounds all dog even the most ninja-like flip-flopper because the thongs offer solittle protection.
Without any support on the bottom of the foot, and a chance that he is altering the way he is walking so that his foot can stick to his shoe, it is very easy for the flip-flopper to generate blisters and calluses.
The list goes on. Podiatrists routinely fault flip-flops for bacteria, viral infections, bad posture, shooting pains, bunions, hammertoe issues, and athlete's foot.
What's the solution? Caution, common sense and moderation are the answers, as they are so frequently. Don't wear flip-flops to mow the lawn, hike in snake country, play Frisbee, or even drive. Resist the urge to leave them on all day long, even if you are staying home and lounging around. And consider trading up to leather, which will usually provide you with better arch support.