They might seem like the perfect summer footwear. But did you know that flip-flops actually pose a number of risks to your health? Some experts are even referring to them as the most dangerous footwear out there.
What makes flip-flops so bad? Well, for one, they exposure your feet to unnatural amounts of stress.
“They let your foot be as flat as they can be,” said Jim Christina, director of scientific affairs at the American Podiatric Medical Association. “If you have a foot that tends to over-flatten, then you’re not getting any support.”
This can lead to a number of conditions, including the über-painful plantar fasciitis – inflammation of tissue on the bottom of your feet.
Flip-flops are also… well, floppy. Your toes have to work extra hard to keep them on your feet. Over time this can lead to a condition known as hammertoe, where the knuckles of your toes arch unnaturally upwards. Not fun.
All those risks we just covered – they all come from simply wearing flip-flops. We haven’t even gotten into what happens when you stumble. And you will stumble; it’s part of the flip-flop-wearing code.
When you inevitably stumble, your skimpy footwear will provide absolutely no help. No ankle protection, no coverage against sharp rocks. Your flip-flops may have gotten you into that fall but make no mistake – you’re dealing with the consequences on your own.
But wait, there’s more!
You might think your flip-flops keep your feet all breezy, fresh and free of any potentially-dangerous bacteria.
The New York Times took flip-flops from two of their reporters and sent them off to a lab. What did they find? Well, the foam was harboring Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can be deadly.
That wasn’t all they found. No, there were 18,100 other harmful bacteria on the flip-flops.
You’d be better off walking barefoot. No, seriously.
Yes, your feet will be exposed to the same bacteria. But most of us take a good, clean shower and wash our feet thoroughly after a day at the beach. When’s the last time you gave your flip-flops a good scrubbing?
Walking barefoot also solves the foot support problem. Think about it. Your feet are designed to support your body’s weight naturally. For most of human existence, shoes were seen as a luxury and barefoot was the only way most people got around.
Check out this talk from Dave to learn more about the physical (and mental) benefits of walking barefoot.
In times where you need to wear shoes, such as while hiking, check out this pair of podiatrist-recommended sandals. Looking for something a bit funkier? Check out these toe shoes!