While flip-flops are all the craze once the warmer months roll around, people tend to rely on them more than necessary. If you stick to wearing this unsupportive and unprotected form of footwear only during specific occasions, you can limit the possible long-term effects. However, when you start slipping on the flip-flops as your daily attire, problems begin to arise.
Continuously wearing flip-flops can affect various parts of your body, such as your posture, toes, skin, heels and arches.
Affect Your Posture
Choosing to dress in flat shoes can affect the way you walk and stand — and not in the best way. Flip-flops don’t bend the same way your feet do, therefore changing your body’s biomechanics — in other words, the function, structure and motion of your body.
Flip-flops can affect your physique beyond your feet by aggravating your joints and messing with your body’s proper alignment. The shoes can also increase knee, lower back and hip pain, causing you to position yourself in various postures to reduce the amount of agony. Without the proper arch and heel support, your hips, knees and back can suffer from alignment issues.
When you stand flat-footed, you can begin to feel pain during most physical activities.
Cause Hazardous Driving
On top of causing bodily pains and irritations, flip-flops can also result in other problems, like hazardous driving. The unstable footwear can impair a driver’s control over a vehicle. For example, the bottom of your flip-flops can get stuck, slide off your foot or lodge under your car’s pedals, increasing the risk of an accident.
Your flip-flops can even get stuck as you’re moving your foot from one pedal to the next. If you’re struggling to free your foot from the accelerator or brake, you may not be able to react as necessary. You also should not drive barefoot for hygienic reasons. Your car’s pedals are full of dirt, debris and other contaminants.
Cause Shooting Pains
Everyone needs the right amount of arch support — whether you have flat feet or a high arch — and flip-flops don’t provide any at all. Your joints have to work extra hard in flat footwear, which can lead to the overuse of your ligaments. You can begin to feel sharp pains up your body from heel strains, pinched back nerves and an aching Achilles tendon.
A common form of foot pain from wearing flip-flops is plantar fasciitis. This condition occurs when you experience irritation and shooting soreness in the connective tissues between your toes and heel. You can often feel discomfort on the bottom or inside of your heel.
Your foot’s plantar fascia tissue supports your natural arch and becomes taut when your foot bears weight. But if you place repetitive stress and excessive tension on the tissue, you can experience plantar fasciitis. Flip-flops require your feet and toes to work harder to keep the shoe on your foot, which can inflame the tissue.
A common effect of having plantar fasciitis is a heel spur, which can cause heel pain. A heel spur is a bony protrusion located at the underside of your heel bone. It forms because of strained foot ligaments and muscles, as well as stretching of the plantar fascia tissue.
Aside from plantar fasciitis, can flip-flops cause neuropathy? Yes, neuropathy can result from exposing your feet to infections and injuries. Because shoe thongs don’t offer any protection, your feet are more inclined to feeling numb and experiencing sharp burning or even stabbing sensations. Your feet can also swell when you wear flip-flops because of the lack of arch support, combined with the hot summer temperatures.
Damage Your Toes
When you choose to wear flip-flops, your toes have to work differently compared to walking in supportive and form-fitting athletic shoes. If your toes undergo excessive bending to keep your flip-flops on, hammertoe can occur after an extended time. Hammertoe is when the knuckles on your toe permanently bend, causing you pain and stiffness that may require surgery. Hammertoe flip-flops are something you may want to avoid.
Open-toed footwear also increases the risk for stubbed toes, broken toes and torn nail beds. Your toes can suffer when you slip on a pair of flip-flops for every outing.
Expose Your Feet to Viral, Bacterial and Fungal Infections
While flip-flops offer some level of protection at the pool or on the beach, they still put your feet at risk for bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Yes, the footwear may be a better choice than walking around public spaces in your bare feet, but you’re still predisposed to a range of nasties like Staphylococcus.
Staphylococcus is a type of bacterium that can irritate the skin on your feet. In the most severe cases, the infection can lead to amputation. You can increase your chances of intense symptoms if you walk around with open wounds on your feet — meaning anything from a cut on your toe to cosmetic exfoliation.
The level at which your body reacts to an infection also depends on your current state of health. If you are healthy, your immune system can protect you well. However, you can experience a more severe infection if you’re already sick.
Athlete’s foot is another condition you can get while wearing flip-flops regularly. It’s a contagious infection that you can pick up from showers and other public areas. You also can become exposed to a form of HPV that causes warts.
If you begin to feel pain on top of your foot after wearing flip-flops, it can mean the straps are rubbing against your skin. If you’re wearing the wrong size shoe thong, it can even go as far as bruising the top of your feet. The thin piece of rubber or fabric strap is the only material holding your foot onto the shoe. It can irritate the skin between your toes as well as on the surface of your foot by causing extreme tenderness and blistering.
If blisters form and pop when you’re not wearing protective shoes, you become vulnerable to bacteria, viruses and fungi. It’s also painful to experience blisters on the top and bottom of your feet.
Increase the Risk of Injuries
Running and jumping in shoes that don’t support your feet can cause sprained ankles, ligament injuries and even fractures and stress fractures. Never run, hike or play sports in flip-flops to avoid severe injuries. In some cases, you may require surgery from a torn ligament or other mishaps. Flip-flops are only for wear on flat surfaces.
You also shouldn’t wear shoe thongs when performing yard work. You’ll increase the chances of tripping over something, and you don’t want to put yourself at risk when working with tools and heavy machinery. Think about the damages a lawnmower, weed whacker or shovel can do to your feet and toes.
Wearing open-toed shoes also makes you more prone to snake and insect bites. Animals can do some significant damage when you’re wearing open shoes and when you’re least expecting it. Select closed-toed sneakers or boots, as well as long pants, for the best protection when walking in your backyard, woods or open fields.
Ruin Your Heels
Imagine walking or running in a supportive pair of sneakers — you have protection for your feet, they aren’t sore and you can feel plenty of traction. Now imagine taking all that protection away, leaving yourself with a slim piece of rubber.
Your heels experience significantly more impact from the ground when you wear thongs. Flip-flops offer no shock-resistant properties, exposing your heel to an increased level of heel-strike impact.
Your foot hits the concrete with more force compared to what you feel with the support of a sneaker. Your heels and the balls of your feet may sense pain when walking or standing in open footwear for extended periods.
Slow You Down
It may not come as a surprise, but flip-flops slow you down and make you clumsy. They cause you to take smaller steps compared to when you wear athletic shoes. Shoe thongs also make you take awkward steps as you try to keep the piece of rubber on your feet.
Flip-flops are trickier to walk in, meaning you have to be more cautious. They increase the risk of tripping and even the chances of falling.
Worsen Your Bunions
If you want to keep any form of flat shoes on your feet, your toes have to over-grip. If you have bunions on your feet, this excessive gripping can aggravate your sores, causing more pain and discomfort than before.
Slipping on a pair of flops may have you hooked on the convenience factor, but don’t let that fool you for too long. They come with a significant range of symptoms that affect your feet and body, as well as problems that affect other areas of your life.
Cosmo Insurance Agency is a full-service independent insurance agency based in Hackensack (Bergen County) and Lakewood (Ocean County), New Jersey that offers an all-encompassing range of insurance options for both individuals and businesses. Cosmo keeps its promise to assure an efficient and creative approach to the services we offer. Each of our clients experience a personalized and long-term relationship with us. Our New Jersey based team of health brokers guides our clients in helping them choose the most cost-effective options. By incorporating our knowledge of the insurance guidelines for healthcare, employee benefits, life insurance, self-insurance, dental, disability, and long term care insurance, we keep our clients up-to-date with affordable plans that cover all their specific insurance needs.