Is your favorite summertime shoe causing you foot pain?

Flip flops are the unofficial shoe of summer. When the warm weather starts, we see them on everyone from small children to grown men and women. At the beach, at the ball field, at the grocery store, this easy-on footwear is practically everywhere. And while they’re certainly convenient, when it comes to overall foot health, flip flops are a definite flop.

They can affect your posture
As with any completely flat shoe, flip flops affect the way you walk and stand. They don’t bend the same way your feet do, which changes your body’s biomechanics — in other words, the function, structure, and motion of your body. These changes can then affect more than just your feet by aggravating your joints and your body’s proper alignment. They can also increase knee, lower back, and hip pain from alignment issues without proper arch and heel support.

They can cause foot pain
Your joints work extra hard in flat shoes, which can cause you to overuse your ligaments. You may begin to feel sharp pains up your body from heel strains, pinched back nerves, and an aching Achilles tendon. Another common form of foot pain from wearing flip flops is plantar fasciitis, which causes irritation and shooting soreness in the connective tissues between your toes and heel, as well as the bottom or inside of your heel. Plantar fasciitis can also lead to a heel spur, a bony protrusion on the underside of your heel bone which forms because of strained foot ligaments and muscles, as well as stretching of the plantar fascia tissue.

They can damage your toes
Your toes work differently in flip flops than they do in supportive, form-fitting athletic shoes. If your toes undergo excessive bending to hold your flip flops on over an extended time, you may end up with hammertoe, which causes the knuckles on your toe to permanently bend and may require surgery.

They may expose your feet to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections
While flip flops offer some protection at the pool or on the beach, they may put your feet at risk for bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Athlete’s foot is one common condition you may pick up from showers and other public areas while wearing flip flops regularly. You also can become exposed to a form of HPV that causes warts.

Staphylococcus (commonly known as “staph infection”) is another potential risk. This type of bacterium can irritate the skin on your feet, and in the most severe cases, can lead to amputation. You can increase your chances of intense symptoms if you walk around with open wounds on your feet, which can include anything from a cut on your toe to cosmetic exfoliation.

They expose you to potential foot injuries
Wearing a thin, open shoe like a flip flop leaves your feet and toes vulnerable to cuts and scratches, as well as potential blisters, broken toenails, and twisted ankles. You can step on rocks, pebbles, or even sharper objects that puncture through the rubber, which can cause almost as much pain as stepping on things barefoot. And if you frequently wear flip flops when other shoes are more appropriate – or for long periods of time – you may trip, slip, or fall due to lack of traction or support.

Moderation will help you avoid the potential discomforts of wearing flip flops. Wear them only when necessary, such as at the beach, pool, spa, or public shower. Try to avoid hiking or walking long distances, opting instead for shorter periods of movement like running errands.

If you are already experiencing some of the after-effects of wearing flip flops or other flat shoes over long periods of time, your next step may be an orthopaedic consultation to determine treatment options for long-term relief. Working with a specialized practice like DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Decatur, you can take advantage of the expertise of Dr. Justin Daigre. Dr. Daigre is board-certified in orthopaedics and fellowship trained in foot and ankle surgery. His expertise and caring approach makes him one of the best foot and ankle surgeons in Alabama. He provides non-surgical and surgical treatments to meet your orthopaedic needs. Whether it is a painful bunion or you need a total ankle replacement, Dr. Daigre is here to keep you on your feet.

Since 1972, DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine has been committed to providing exceptional orthopaedic care through innovative techniques, quality services, patient communication, and education. With specialties ranging from general orthopaedics and physical therapy to sports medicine, joint replacement and more, the doctors at DOC Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine can provide local expert care for any orthopaedic disorder or injury and help put your life back in motion.

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