Summertime Footwear: The Dangers of Wearing Flip Flops

Dangers of Flip FlopsSure, flip flops may be stylish, easy, and keep your feet cool during those hot summer days. However, did you know that wearing flip flops can actually be harmful for you and your health? It's true, flip flops make you more prone to injury and infections.

Here are seven ways wearing flip flops could be detrimental to your summertime fun.

1. Exposure to Harmful Bacteria, Viruses, and Fungi

When you wear flip flops, your feet are exposed to all types of harmful elements. Without the protection of cover, your feet get dirty quicker.

One of the things you might expose yourself to is staphylococcus, the bacteria that causes staph infections. Staph infection is purely a skin ailment, unless you have open wounds on your feet. Then, the bacteria can get inside and lead to serious health consequences, even amputation.

Other common foot diseases you are susceptible to from wearing flip flops are fungi infections. Athlete’s foot is one of the most common foot infections and causes an itchy rash and fungi growth.

Walking through puddles of water with flip flops can also expose your feet to bacteria and fungus in dirty water.

A serious threat to bare feet is hook worm. Hook worms can get into your system through the bottom of your foot when you're exposed to dirty water or ground. Hook worm infections cause intestinal, skin, and lung issues.

2. Exposure to Injury

When so much of your foot is exposed to the outside world, your chances of injuring your foot is greater.

Wearing flip flops can make it easier for you to step on glass, or other sharp objects, that may penetrate through the shoe, scratch or scrape your feet, stub your toe, and twist or sprain your ankle.

Flip flops do not provide enough support around the ankles or balls of the feet. They easily fall off and the "flipping" that they do makes it easy to trip. Basically, flip flops make you clumsier.

3. No Support

Flat shoes do not provide arch support. People with high arches or flat feet are prone to plantar fasciitis. The risk for this injury is even great if shoes are not supportive.

Flip flops are one of the worst shoes on the market when it comes to risk of tendon or muscle injury like plantar fasciitis. If you have never experienced the excruciating pain of plantar fasciitis, you definitely don't want to.

Wearing non-supportive shoes can cause heal pain and injuries because the impact on your heal is much greater without support and padding.

Flip flops can also injure the Achilles tendon and lead to arthritis in the knees and joints. Once you injure your foot or ankle, you're more prone to other injuries and arthritis in the legs, hips, and back. Skip wearing flip flops and keep your body safe from harm.

Hammer Toes

4. Can Cause Permanent Toe Damage


Wearing flip flops puts a lot of work on your toes. The toes have to grip to keep the shoe on your foot. Consistent flip flop wearing can actually permanently damage your toes and lead to what is called 
hammer toes. Hammer toes happens when your toes are curled under permanently. It can not only look unpleasant but can also be very painful and cause calluses and corns. To prevent hammertoe, wear shoes that have mid-foot and ankle support.

5. Can Cause Blisters

Flip flop straps rub against your foot, as it is the only thing keeping your shoe on. The constant rubbing often leads to blisters that are hard to heal. Blisters are painful, annoying, and make it easier for you to get infections. You're essentially walking around with an open wound after they pop.

6. Posture and Back Issues

Flat shoes do not bend the way that our feet do when we walk. This means that we're constantly working against our natural biomechanics.

This is why flip flops and all flat shoes can lead to poor posture, as our feet are not supported, and neither are our hips or our back.

Support is necessary under the arches, and balls of the feet, to keep the spine aligned. Without support, our joints have to compensate. This means more use and wear on our joints and back.

Thus, wearing flip flops can cause back and other skeletal issues and pain. Some common issues include pinched nerves and heel pain.

7. Exposure to Toxic Materials

Many flip flops are made of cheap materials that are also toxic.

Plastic made of BPA or latex can be harmful. They both may cause skin irritations and even cancer. The risk is even greater when so much of the foot is in contact with the material, or the shoe has contact with open foot wounds.

To be safe, choose shoes that are made of leather or fabric materials. 

How We Can Help

Are you wondering if wearing flip flops has harmed your feet or other body parts? Are you are experiencing pain in the feet, ankle, hips, or back? Do you have an infection of the foot that isn't going away?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then we are here to help.

At David S. Levine, MD Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgery, we offer a range of services relative to feet and ankle issues. Our team has won numerous awards with our high-quality care and service in the New York area. Check out the conditions we treat and contact us today to schedule an appointment.