Flip flops and flats. So popular, yet so poor for your feet. Why are they bad? Because both flip flops and flats provide nearly zero support. Both shoes force extra pressure on your feet into unnatural ways that cause injuries through the foot and even up the legs and back. They’re so unsupportive, hip Vogue staff started a new trend: the aircast, or the clunky black medical boot prescribed by the doctor’s office for injured feet, caused by wearing flats so often. They’re often uncomfortable and cause a lot of foot pain, even though good shoes should never cause any pain.
Shoes are supposed to provide stability. When you bend a flat or a flip flop, as demonstrated by Haim Hechtman, DPT in the video below, there’s little support to keep the feet carefully contained. A more supportive shoe, such as a sneaker, provides heel contour and flexes in the toe box to maximize stability and minimize stress. This in turn prevents foot pain and stress from affecting other parts of the body, including the ankle, knee, and hip.
Not to mention that flip flops are dangerous – they can fall off your feet, expose your feet to fungus and bacteria, and cause hammertoes: a condition when you scrunch your toes just to keep the shoe on your foot. You can also easily trip wearing flip flops or have them sucked into escalators. One should never drive in flip flops because your foot can easily slip off the gas pedal or your flip flop can become wedged under the gas or brake pedal, which has happened to one in nine flip flop-wearing drivers – putting you in a very dangerous situation.
Both flip flops and flats also can cause heel pain, specifically plantar fasciitis, from the repetitive heel strike during walking. Shoes lacking arch support can also cause fallen arches, or flat feet, which can lead to knee osteoarthritis.
If you’re only walking a short distance in your flip flops or flats, such as just around the office or down the street, then the risk of injury and foot pain is minimal. However, many people choose this footwear to walk all over town, either for a night out or to commute. The belief is that flip flops or flats are a better alternative to wearing high heels, when in fact neither is better.
Your best bet when it comes to flip flops or flats? Wear a supportive shoe for longer distances while carrying your preferred shoe in your bag, and then switch when you reach your destination. Your feet – ankles, knees, hips and back too – will thank you.