Should you toss or wear your flimsy footwear?

Flip flops have not only become a staple by the pool and in locker room showers, but they have also become a showcased shoe all through the year and at every occasion.

They may be comfortable and allow your hot summer feet to breathe, but they may not be the best choice for your foot health. And your exposed foot could be unsanitary.

What are the dangers of wearing flip flops?

If flip flops are your favorite type of footwear, you could be straining the muscles in your foot, especially if you’re wearing them while exercising.

“Flip flops use different muscles than athletic shoes because you’re trying to keep the flip flop on your foot,” said Scott & White podiatrist J. Marshall Devall, DPM. “And that may mean you’re going to be more prone to injury.”

The openness of the flip flop could also pose a safety concern if you drop or spill something on your foot.

And if you’re foot is exposed, it could also be a health hazard.


“Your feet get really dirty if you’re out walking around in them because they’re not protecting as well as an athletic shoe,” Dr. Devall said. “A lot of workplaces and restaurants won’t allow people to wear open-toed shoes because of that reason.

How can you safely and cleanly wear flip flops?

The simple answer, the podiatrist said, is you really can’t. The only way to ensure your foot safety and sanitation, is to minimize the frequency that you wear them.

“Confine them to the house or the swimming pool,” Dr. Devall said. “I think if I could just get all of my patients to just wear their flip flops at home, they’d probably have less foot problems.”

What footwear options do I have if I want comfort and breatheability?

If you’re looking for the convenience and comfort you get from your favorite pair of flip flops, Dr. Devall suggests purchasing a pair of hiking sandals or another pair of open shoes that offer more protection and support.

But the podiatrist warns that even sandals should be used in moderation.

“As long as you know how to wear them and you minimize the wear, then there shouldn’t be as many problems,” he said.

Here are a few guidelines from the American Podiatric Medical Association on how wear your flip flops in a healthy way.

  • Choose flip flops that are made of a sturdier material like leather.
  • Make sure the flip flop doesn’t fold in half when you bend it.
  • Measure your foot and make sure you are purchasing a flip flop that fits your foot correctly.
  • Throw away last year’s flip flops if they are worn out.
  • Pay attention to blisters or other signs of irritation.
  • Don’t wear flip flops for during exercise or sporting events.

For more information about the Do’s and Don’ts of wearing flip flops, visit the APMA’s site.

How often do you wear flip flops? Would you ever consider swapping your flip flops for a pair of athletic shoes or hiking sandals?

About the author

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Jessa McClure holds a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, where she is currently an adviser for student publications. She has been a writer in the health care field since 2009.

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Should you toss or wear your flimsy footwear?