Are Your Flip-flops Ortho-Friendly? – How your Favorite Sandals May Cause Health Issues

Everybody’s got their favorite pair—those worn out, well-trampled flip-flops or sandals. They’re the star of the summer season, going with us to the beach and beyond.

Unlike more substantive footwear, however, flip-flops and sandals can pose real dangers despite their fun attitude and festive purposes. When worn for a light stroll or extensive walk, a lack of support and shock absorption can cause enduring orthopaedic issues.

This summer season, the team at Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons reminds us how appropriate footwear contributes to our overall mobility and health. While they may be cheap, fun, or even disposable, flip-flops and sandals are lacking in several key areas.


Arch Support

If you’ve ever peered inside your preferred pair of athletic shoes, you’ll have noticed the arch support in the sole. Proper arch support keeps your feet from pain and may even spare you serious injury.

Flip-flops and sandals, on the other hand, aren’t always built with activity in mind.  The cheaper the flip-flop, the flatter the sole. If you’ve got a long walk to the beach or plans to tour a theme park in only your flip-flops or sandals, you may be at risk for arch and heel pain or even plantar fasciitis—a painful inflammation of tissues near the heels.

All is not lost, however. Many sandal brands sell models with appropriate arch support.


Shock Absorption

When it comes to human mobility, the heel is the real hero. Our heels bear the brunt of our bodyweight as we walk and, as such, face the greatest risk in inappropriate footwear.

If you’ve ever walked an unexpectedly long distance in a pair of hard-heeled loafers, you’ll know the importance of proper shock absorption. Sandals and flip-flops pose the same risk by providing only a thin, flat sole for support.

Foot pain, sprained ankles, and even tendonitis may result from lack of shock absorption. If you suffer from knee pain or preexisting orthopaedic injuries, walking without proper heel support can easily exacerbate the issue.

A short walk to the hotel pool is one thing, but any trip longer may require either purpose-built sandals or athletic shoes.


Lack of Protection

The same feature that makes sandals and flip-flops great for the beach can also make them dangerous. By being light, easy on, and easy off, sandals and flip-flops capitalize on being “barely there.”

This can cause real issues on real world sidewalks, over pavement, and in wooded environments. Without a decent sole, you can easily develop blisters. Balance issues are also a concern in barely there footwear. Feet and tendons may swell and ultimately cut your trip (and your enjoyment) short.

Sprained ankles may result from sandals and flip-flops. Such footwear also affects your posture and can lead to back and neck pains. Ultimately, if you plan on any serious walking, you’ll want to invest in better sandals or avoid the footwear altogether.


Better Footwear, Better Summer

For many of us, vacation means: no socks, no shoes, no problems. But relying too much on sandals and footwear may actually cause serious problems that can easily follow you home.

Alabama Orthopaedic Surgeons recommend investing in a pair of good sandals with arch support and shock absorption at the very least. Otherwise, a pair of athletic shoes may be your best bet. Whatever you decide, it’s worth remembering that disposable sandals are disposable for a reason. Be safe out there and have a happy summer!

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