With the July heat upon us, many are slipping on flip-flops and heading outdoors. But using the flat-soled footwear as an every day walking shoe is not a great idea according to a local Pedorthist.
“Flip flops are interesting because they are a tool that was sort of designed for getting you from the change room to the swimming pool, or the towel to the water at the end of the beach,” says Shalina Edge, a Certified Pedorthist at Brian Farrance Orthotics. “They weren’t really designed for walking in and a lot of people — they end up being a lot of people’s main summer shoe.”
The problem with that? Flip-flops are an unstable shoe. Since there is no back strap, people’s feet often shift from side to side. Not only does it increase the risk of sprained ankles, Edge says it can also have long-term side affects. “They also contribute to certain conditions like plantar fasciitis where you stain your arch, either from twisting your foot the wrong way or from over- using the muscles. Anytime you are wearing anything that has no back like a flip-flop…your arch has to tighten every step, then it gets extra pull on it. If you have something like arthritis in your toes, this motion isn’t good. ”
Edge says flip-flops may not be as bad for children though. “There was a study that came out last year that actually studied mechanics and foot position in children. They found that for kids, a flip-flop–I think its 7 and under–flip-flops were fine mechanically. They were very similar to a kid running around bare foot, but they offered more protection.”
For adults, Edge recommends a more supportive sandal when it comes to walking long distances. “I personally recommend a good hiking sandal. One that has a back strap because a lot of sandals don’t, and holds it on your foot.”