Flip-flop flap: They could be a danger to your feet

Trouble afoot?: Flip-flops are a popular type of shoe these days, especially in the warmer weather. But can they be causing some long-term foot damage? Some podiatrists think so. (Flickr photo by bridgetd517)
Trouble afoot?: Flip-flops are a popular type of shoe these days, especially in the warmer weather. But can they be causing some long-term foot damage? Some podiatrists think so. (Flickr photo by bridgetd517)
Just in time for the end of summer, I saw this report on ABC’s Good Morning America the other day. The ever-popular flip-flop sandals are a growing concern among podiatrists and other doctors.

A New York podiatrist was quoted: “Flip-flops have single handedly caused more problems with people’s feet in the last couple of years than any other type of shoe.” He went on to say he sees five to ten cases of flip-flop related foot problems a week at his office.

Testimonials were also given by those who’ve had medical problems due to flip-flops. One woman told how she slipped on wet pavement and broke ankle. Another said that she stepped on spilled cottage cheese at a grocery store and snapped her foot after an embarrassing fall.

The big problem with flip-flops, the experts reported, is that they give absolutely no support to the bottom of a foot. Without that support, the foot is able to twist and turn any which way, leading to sprains, breaks and falls. Also, the thin, flat soles of flip-flops provide virtually no shock-absorbing qualities to feet and legs while walking. Sustained wearing of flip-flops can lead to nerve damage in the foot and ankle area.

One other warning from the foot doctor, don’t wear flip-flops while driving a car. Since they’re barely connected to your feet, it’s possible and easy for them to slip off and get lodged in the gas or brake pedals of a car.

One other item to keep in mind, the doctor pointed out: It’s a good practice to vary your footwear from day to day. The variety of soles and shapes will keep your feet healthier and more comfortable each day.

What do you think about flip-flops and their potential dangers? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Another flip-flop warning: don't wear them with socks. You might feel like a ninja, but you'll look like a moron.

Plus you might, I don't know, break your foot or something.

posted on Sat, 08/25/2007 - 1:25pm
Na923's picture
Na923 says:

He He...I hate socks and sandals!!! It drives me crazy. lol

posted on Tue, 08/28/2007 - 8:21am
Marshall's picture
Marshall says:

I have nerve damage in my foot as a result of wearing flip flops. I knew it was from the flip flops and when I researched on the net and found this story it further solidified my belief that that is exactly where the damage came from.

posted on Mon, 05/25/2009 - 8:29pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

I like to wear them backwards, as flop-flips.

posted on Sat, 08/25/2007 - 1:34pm
I's picture
I says:

umm... I don't really wear flip flops, so I don't really have anything to say.

posted on Sat, 08/25/2007 - 3:16pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

My niece calls them flap-flops. Is there any shoe that is safe? First Healys now flip flops. Shoe professionals need to lighten up.

posted on Sat, 08/25/2007 - 5:03pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

I think those "sensible" shoes that school librarians and the like used to wear would be considered safe!

posted on Sat, 08/25/2007 - 6:21pm
Ren's picture
Ren says:

Flip-flops are so not real shoes and I absolutely abhore them. They should only be worn to pools, beaches, and other such public, wet places. I'm ecstatic to hear that medical science is coming down on them now too.

The only footwear I hate more than flip-flops? Those absolutely irritating sneaker/skate things!

posted on Mon, 08/27/2007 - 8:45pm
mentor's picture
mentor says:

socks and flip-flops/sandals should be illegal to wear cause if u wear socks might as well wear shoes too lol

posted on Tue, 08/28/2007 - 9:41am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The Flip-flop is right up there with the invention of the straw, drinking from the glass was too hard for some people to do. People who wear flip flops are too lazy to put on socks & shoes and lac' em up.

posted on Sun, 09/02/2007 - 8:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i need more info on this subject for a report... can anyone help me??

posted on Fri, 09/07/2007 - 12:46pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

on aug 21 2007 I lost my balance wearing flip flops and i fractured my right foot

posted on Sat, 09/08/2007 - 10:02am
metamora's picture
metamora says:

i love sandals and i really dont care if i there are risks of wearing sandals!

posted on Wed, 09/12/2007 - 1:39pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I like sandals better than flip flops because they offer more support and they are alot safer to wear because they cant fall off.

posted on Thu, 09/27/2007 - 8:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

arent sandals and flip flops the same the only difference is that sandals have scraps to scrap to your foot. they feel the same too me.......

posted on Thu, 03/18/2010 - 9:20am
water's picture
water says:

flip flops are more dangerous.

posted on Thu, 03/18/2010 - 11:20am
Jason's picture
Jason says:

I wear flip flops since I was little and I never have foot problems. I don't think that flip flops are not dangerous.

posted on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 1:09pm
backscracher's picture
backscracher says:

they can be dangerous. like if your rideing your bike and you fall and scrape your feet and git hurt relly bad

posted on Thu, 03/18/2010 - 11:55am
semonk's picture
semonk says:

I think that flip flops are ok as along as your not wearing socks because, you look reeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaally stupid.

posted on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 2:56pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i only where flip-flops to the pool and the beach and stuff because i really dont want the problems that these can cause.................................. basically i think that they are only outdoors and summer shoes not all year around shoes......................... besides you look like an idiot if you where them is the winter

posted on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 7:48pm
Happy Horse's picture

LOL i think the same thing. I'm almost always wearing flop flops when im at home. But i only where them outside when im at the pool or something or just doing something on the porch. i had a friend that weared flip flops all the time even in the winter. i personally think flip flops suck; they ruin your feet and give arthuritis or osteorithis. and they dont give any protection or support. im an 11 yaer old.

posted on Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:28pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I wear my flip flops to a lot of places, unless it is winter, or just cold outside.

posted on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 10:41am
kara's picture
kara says:

I love flip flops I do wear them everywhere sometimes in the winter too...

Well I think People sometimes Want to feel feel but you have to wear something on your feet..
I like being bearfoot but flip flops are the closest thing too it sooo ...

thats what I think..

posted on Sat, 01/05/2008 - 3:03pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think flip flops are awesome even though they killed me..... lol

posted on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 8:40am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

who thinks that students should be able to wear flip flops at school?

posted on Mon, 04/14/2008 - 7:43am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

sorry but we are allowed to wear them to school already!

posted on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 8:02am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i know socks and flip flops drive evryone crazy, but what about flip flops and those toe sock things?

posted on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 7:32am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Dave said,

I wear flip flops most of the time I am awake. I have fallen because of their slipperiness several times. I think they are very dangerous. I have even worn them in freezing temperatures. I only wear other footwear in wet weather or for dress-up.
I have athlete's foot, and flip flops are very good for my foot health in this area.

posted on Sat, 06/07/2008 - 1:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Oh, give me a break!! What can people do nowadays without there being some sort of risk involved. For the ladies, if you avoid wearing flip-flops and stick to wearing heels, then you still will be exposed to the risk of falling down and injuring some part of your body (be it your ankle, leg, back or other). For the guys, if you avoid wearing flip-flops and stick to wearing boots or sneakers, then you will still be vulnerable to the risk of injuring some part of your body by tripping and falling..also, you will end up having a huge problem with smelly, stinky feet.

So my advice is: Wear your flip-flops with style and confidence. Just try and be careful when walking in them as you would do when wearing other kinds of foot wear. (BUT NEVER, EVER WEAR FLIP-FLOPS WHEN DRIVING!!!)

Oh, one more thing I want to share...I support the view that wearing flip-flops with socks make you look like a moron!

posted on Sat, 06/07/2008 - 7:30pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My mom hates that I wear flip-flops all year round :P. Oh well. And yes I am to lazy to find cute shoes that I actually have to lace-up or whatever the heck you want to say. I just dont like tennis shoes or whatever. I wear flats, the ones with the front and back? But oh dear god don't let those be ANY better then flip-flops! I vow never to wear stupid orthopedic shoes either. Have a good day! :)

posted on Sun, 06/08/2008 - 3:34pm
David Moreno's picture
David Moreno says:

Maybe they are only dangerous if you are chewing gum and the same time and your hair is blond? I live in flip flops and outside of lack of arch support haven't noticed any of the above... But then, I'm barefooted much of the time too and not much of a spring chicken... I could see how they are dangerous driving, especially when on a cell phone...

posted on Wed, 06/11/2008 - 9:05am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Ive been wearing nothing but flip-flops for almost 3 years now and im starting to have problems with my feet. As a dancer, i can't afford to ruin my feet, so im officially switching over to shoes.

posted on Sun, 06/15/2008 - 10:00pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

To the person saying ppl who wear flip flops are just lazy... that may be true for a small fraction of ppl, but the reason I & many others wear them is because they're so comfortable & breezy in the summer. Your analogy is basically also saying those who wear Vans slip ons are lazy, too, since those obviously don't have laces & don't require socks. I think flops & slip ons are absolutely adorable & comfy & I really don't give a crap about ppl who don't like the way they look. I don't like big floral prints, but you don't hear me complaining about other people's hideous clothing choices.

I've been wearing flops since the day I could walk & so far so good :)

posted on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 9:54am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

There's nothing wrong with flip flops, the real problem is people don't wear them in moderation. Flip flops are pool shoes, period. Wearing them year round, especially in winter, is seriously tacky.

posted on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 11:33am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Well if you live in Florida like me, then its perfectly reasonable to wear flip flops year round. No one wants to wear sneakers in 95 degree weather. We dont even get winter so are we allowed to wear them? or is that "tacky"?

posted on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 2:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

flip flops r awesome, idk wuts wrong with em, whoever wrote this article must hav been really down on stories, and i think this shuldn't even b here, this is stupid(just dont wear flipflops with socks, then u culd b classified as a moron)

posted on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 12:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

im fine with ANYONE wearing flip flops as long as they wash their feet and dont have greenish purple toenails, also i wear vans!! ones with laces AND with socks. and im pretty sure the person who started this argument is a democrat (yuck) because they are SOO concerned with evrybody elses clothes/shoes. ppl wear what ppl wear because they feel like it, get over it seriously!! if you feel like you have to wear hightops with tube socks then go for it, nobody is stopping you!!

posted on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 12:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says: i just noticed the flip-flops at the beggining at the article, and 'quite frankly' if those are the kicks ur wearing...i SERIOUSLY agree that u are in need of a new wardrobe, those are hideous

posted on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 12:16pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Do I detect some fashion snobbery occurring here? It's best to keep the discussion centered on the scientific/health issues relating to flip-flops and leave matters of fashion and taste to some other forum. BTW: Here's a link to a story about a new type of flip-flops – FitFlops – that claim to combine a workout into every day walking in flip-flops.

posted on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 2:50pm
no hammer's picture
no hammer says:

i wanna kno why this old guy is talkn to those of us who think this flip flop 'hazard' is a joke as if we are the ones who are at fault. the anonymous statements simply state that it is unhealthy to others if u are wearing flip flops if you have some discusting foot leprosy, etc. but i have TONS of friends who wear flip flops, one of which broke her foot...while wearing TENISHOES. so i find that theres no serious hazard to wearing flip flops. if u cant wear flip flops and chew gum, talk on the phone, etc. then yeah, wear ur 'tennis' but if not just make sure u wash ur feet and haven a ball while you 'flip-flop'

posted on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 2:59pm
sandy09's picture
sandy09 says:

WOW Flip flops can be really dangerous!!

posted on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 8:41am
kali0082's picture
kali0082 says:

I can't believe that flip flops could cause that much damage! I am still going to wear them though... they are perfect for summertime!!

posted on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 8:43am
EWatson02's picture
EWatson02 says:

*Sigh* Okay. I give up. Heels are hazardous. Flats are hazardous. Now flip-flops are hazardous. What attractive shoes ARE safe to wear? And why is it that women's shoes (well, I suppose flip-flops are fairly unisex) are so particularly user-unfriendly?

Personally, I'd think that flip-flops would be unsafe just because your toes and bare feet are so exposed, and not because of the lack of support. The latter depends on the individual shoe--I've worn flip-flops that have given me lots of support--but the former is universal.

I actually haven't worn flip-flops in quite awhile, now that I think about it. During the summer, I got so used to wearing tennis shoes to work that I just started wearing them all the time. Though mine are of the tie-less type, with elastic straps holding the tongue in place instead of laces.

posted on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 6:17pm
Sonya's picture
Sonya says:

Honestly, I have a hard time believing that flip flops can be more dangerous than heels.

posted on Tue, 03/24/2009 - 2:23am
in pain from fit-flops!'s picture
in pain from fit-flops! says:

I sprained the ball of my foot wearing fit-flops every day for a sore I can hardly walk, and they're supposed to be orthotic!!

posted on Thu, 09/03/2009 - 4:18pm
painintheheel's picture
painintheheel says:

i used to wear flip flops all of the time and now am suffering for it...they have no arch support and cause your ankle to be unstable as well , especially if the flips flops are wearing out...i have busted my arse a few times when the shoe slid causing my ankle to turn, and YES the shoe has even gotten caught under the gas pedal or brake pedal and caused me to almost lose control of the vehicle! i now have severe plantar fasciitis and a HUGE bone spur in my heel....

Thanks Flip are cute and all, and i am gonna miss you , but you messed me up!!! :(

posted on Mon, 04/19/2010 - 10:17am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

yeah whos fault is it for buying sandals with out rubber soles? do we make an issue of it when some one slips in shoes, on wet floors or cottage cheese or ice? NO! this is a bunch of nonsense, and i'm sure the Dr. are weeping all the way to the bank with all the money they are making off the people coming to them with their issues, and then prescribing them hundreds of dollars worth of overly simplistic advice and or expensive shoes and orthotics. a fair chunk of the world doesn't have shoes like we do and they are just fine, less injuries or foot problems than us.

posted on Sun, 08/08/2010 - 6:34am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I feel sorry for all those people 2000 years ago that could only wear sandals. Can you imagine all the nerve damage, broken ankles and bad falls they had? I'll bet 3/4 of them were invalids by they time they were 20. Good thing we invented "real" shoes.

posted on Mon, 08/09/2010 - 9:25am
Neil D's picture
Neil D says:

More nonsense from the witchdoctor oops podiatry community.
I've been wearing flip flops for 20 years and never had a problem.
In fact I would go as far to say that the only problems I have ever had was when I made the mistake of seeing a witchdoctor, sorry podiatrist when I had a knee problem. He prescribed expensive orthotics and thick padded shoes after which I got tendonitis and hip problems. Things are much better now since I threw them in the bin, only shame is I wasted over $400 first.
Most problems are caused by shoes with heels, any heel. They shorten your tendons and calf in an unnatural way and lead to low back weakness & knee stresses.
Keep the flip-flops & we would need far fewer podiatrists!

posted on Wed, 09/15/2010 - 6:24am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I've worn flip flops for over 2 years now (we live in south Texas and it's always flip flop weather). I am now starting to have problems with the nerve in the top of my foot and it's right where the strap from the flip flop goes. I'll be heading to the foot doc for confirmation, but I will not be wearing flip flops in the meantime. Hopefully the damage isn't irreversible!

posted on Thu, 12/02/2010 - 10:40pm

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