Are flip-flops ruining your feet?

This summer sandal staple may be convenient for the pool or beach, but isn't ideal for anywhere else

Photo, David Les Jacobs/Lloyd Dobbie/Getty Images.

Photo, David Les Jacobs/Lloyd Dobbie/Getty Images.

“The purpose of shoes is to protect your feet—the only thing flip-flops may protect you from are fungal infections around pools,” says Dr. Axel Rohrmann, a Regina-based podiatrist. Flip-flops shouldn’t be worn for long periods of activity or in crowded areas such as amusement parks or shopping malls because they leave your feet vulnerable to being stepped on—or having your toes stubbed.

The mechanics of flip-flops also force your toes to claw down and grip them in an effort just to keep them on. Not only do they not offer any support for your feet, but eventually your foot musculature will become overstrained as well. This could affect the way you walk which can lead to painful problems like bunions and plantar fasciitis. “Any closed-toe shoe is better than a flip-flop because it usually offers more protection and stability,” says Dr. Rohrmann.

In the summer, look for light shoes with a rounded toe box—such as deck shoes, espadrilles or slip-ons—and make sure your toes aren’t hitting the front when you walk. If you need to wear a sandal, choose one with a firm sole, thicker straps and a moulded footbed, like Birkenstock or Mephisto sandals.

This article was originally published in Canadian Health & Lifestyle magazine.

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