Be Firm with Your Flip-Flops: A Careful Balance Between Foot Health and Fashion

May 21, 2021

Be Firm with Your Flip-Flops: A Careful Balance Between Foot Health and Fashion

image of flipflops on grass

Among the many pleasures of spring and summer is that chance to slide your toes into the unrestricted feel of your favorite sandals, especially after a long winter in clunky boots.

This spring, as you return to the airy atmosphere of slip-on footwear, remember those shoes that offer no-to-low support can cause tendon strains and other ailments that can curtail your celebrations in the sun.

Those injuries are why doctors like Ruth Moen, DPM, a podiatrist with Avera Orthopedics Sioux Falls, stress the facts about your feet, ankles and footwear.

A supportive shoe help to shield the stress and protect your foot, while flip-flops, sandals – really any shoe without laces – can put extra stress on your feet,” Moen said. “When your toes are working hard to grip the shoe, especially if you are active, you can suffer overuse injuries to tendons and muscles. This can result in tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, leg-muscle fatigue, and more.”

How to Test Your Choices

Moen said testing shoes for support is pretty easy: just hold them by the toe and heel, and then twist and bend the shoe.

“Any shoe, laces or not, that you can bend in half or twist quite a bit, is not going to offer your foot much support, and over time, especially with activity, that can lead to pain,” she said. “There are so many good choices, but sometimes our fashion sense will lead us to make poor choices for foot health.”

She’s not saying to “outlaw sandals.” She’s just reminding every person to use common sense. Slip sandals off and choose a more supportive running or walking shoe if you’ve got a big Disney World or beach trip planned. Moderation, when it comes to support-free footwear, can save you from pain.

“There are some fun and fashionable shoes for summer that do offer support, so you have to be a smart shopper,” said Moen. “Almost every style or brand offers you choices that give more support, and that support can help protect you from developing foot pain.”

The twist test for firmness can always be used to check any shoe. Many popular shoe styles vary from firm-soled and supportive to not-so-much. If you select a shoe with good support, then you can focus on enjoying the summer, rather than being concerned about painful feet.

“Shoes that strap to your feet and have some built in arch support help to reduce overuse injury,” Moen said. “We see a lot of people with foot pain in the summer because their shoes are not doing enough to support them. It’s better to focus on foot health by selecting smart summer shoes, so that you can spend your summer days enjoying the sunshine and staying active.”

Consider Activity and Your Footwear

Spring and summer bring more activities – vacations, concerts and festivals – that may have you on your feet for long periods. From tendinitis to plantar fasciitis, many troubles of the foot start with the shoe.

“We remind patients with foot pain to avoid re-aggravation. Sometimes people are ‘good’ about support all day, then come home and walk barefoot or in flip-flops and the pain returns,” she said. “Support is key – all day long. When pain is taking the fun out of your summer, evaluate your shoe choices.

Learn more about professional help with foot or ankle problems when it’s needed.