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Feature Article Choose Better Flip-Flops for Happy Feet

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You may have heard that wearing flip-flops is bad for your feet, but since they’re cheap, comfortable and it’s summer time, you’re probably still wearing them anyway.

“Most podiatrists dislike flip-flops because they can be harmful to bones and muscles, make tripping or hurting your feet while walking more likely, and put you at higher risk for infectious diseases,” said Hylke Snieder, MD with Samaritan Family Medicine Resident Clinic.

"A good pair of shoes can help to align your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back,” said Snieder. Most footwear also protects your feet from glass or metal on the ground, from stubbing your toe and from direct impact if you drop something on your foot. And according to Dr. Snieder, close proximity to the ground also makes it easier to pick up diseases such as athlete’s foot or staphylococcus. With flip-flops, your feet are less supported and more vulnerable to injury. For some people, like those with diabetes, shoes that don’t offer protection can even pose a health problem.

“You don’t have to completely avoid flip-flops though,” said Dr. Snieder. “As with any shoe, you just want to make sure you get a good quality item that fits well and supports your feet, and that what you’re wearing on your feet is appropriate for your activity.”

Dr. Snieder offers these tips for finding the right flip-flops:

  1. Pick a flip-flop that doesn’t bend or twist, except slightly at the ball of the foot. If it folds in half, put it back. A thicker sole protects your feet from debris on the ground and provides support. This may mean that you have to pay a little more for flip-flops.

  2. Consider buying a pair made of soft leather, which minimizes the chance of irritation or blisters.

  3. Don’t wear flip-flops non-stop all summer. Flip-flops are great for the beach, the pool, or quick errands. They are not meant for hiking, playing sports, long days on your feet, yard work or driving. A water shoe or sandal with straps across the heel and top of the foot are a better choice than flip-flops if you prefer the feel of the wind on your toes and you don’t need the protection of a running shoe or work boot.

Hylke Snieder, MD, is a resident at Samaritan Family Medicine Resident Clinic as a part of Samaritan’s Graduate Medical Education Program. He provides primary care to patients of all ages and can be reached at 541-768-5142.

The good times of summer and outdoor adventures sometimes lead to unexpected accidents or injuries. When you need health care right away Samaritan offers many options. Find out where to go for convenient care near you.