Flip-Flops: Your Arch Enemy?

Too little foot support can lead to pain and injury, doctors say

People of all ages wear flip-flops during the summer, but this type of footwear can cause pain and injury when worn for long periods of time, while walking on concrete or when playing sports, experts warn.

That's because flip-flops offer limited arch support and coverage for the feet, orthopedic doctors at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City said in a medical school news release.

The doctors outlined some potential health concerns associated with these casual, summer shoes.

People change how they walk when wearing flip-flops, gripping with their toes in order to keep the shoes in place. This can lead to stress in certain muscles and strain in toes, ankles, legs, hips and the back.

Because the flat and flimsy shoe bed in flip-flops does not provide adequate foot support for all-day wear, people may be at risk for arch pain, plantar fasciitis and nerve problems.

The lack of shock absorption in flip-flops also can lead to pain in the feet, legs, hips and back. Other problems associated with flip-flops include broken toes and toe nails, cuts and germs, the Mount Sinai experts said.

Sun damage is another potential issue with flip-flops and other sandals. Anyone wearing this type of footwear should apply sunscreen to their feet in order to reduce their risk for skin cancer.

Flip-flops: Pain in the foot or the best summer sandal? Weigh in on the iVillage message boards!

More information

The American Podiatric Medical Association has more about flip-flops.

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