Flip-flops are good to wear in the health club locker room or at the community pool, because they can protect your feet against fungi and wart-causing viruses that can be acquired by walking around barefoot. Flip-flops can also provide protection for your feet against the beach's hot sand, which might otherwise cause skin to burn and blister on your walk to the water.
But other than those scenarios, health-wise, flip-flops have limited use, this according to a special CNN report by Marina Csomor, in which she cites the National Foot Health Assessment 2012 released in June, indicating that 78% of adults 21 and older have experienced one or more foot problems in their lives. And one common culprit, especially during the summer, is the flip-flop.
She also mentions Bob Thompson, executive director for the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, who doesn't own a single pair of flip-flops and claims that despite the popularity, there are many risks involved with wearing flip-flops . "There's no heel support and structural support ... on that little slab of rubber," he said.
Although feet were designed to walk barefoot on Earth's natural surfaces (grass, sand or gravel), they were not prepared to endure the concrete, asphalt and steel that covers so many landscapes today, Thompson said. These unmovable surfaces are harsh on bare feet, and the thin rubber sole of many flip-flops does little to adequately absorb the shock they produce.
Whether you are standing still or in motion, your feet are your first point of contact with the ground. The way your feet are positioned provides the foundation for the body's skeletal alignment. A flat shoe provides little arch or lateral support and even slight shifts in stance over time could lead to misalignment, causing pain in the knees, hips and back.
With nothing to keep a wearer's foot in place, flip-flops can also lead to tumbles, twisted ankles and even broken bones.
"Everything in your body starts with how you strike your heel to the ground," Mr.Thompson said. He also recommends padded, acrylic-blend socks, which wick moisture away from the foot, under properly fitted shoes that have plenty of toe room and support.
In her CNN special report, Ms. Csomor also mentions Noreen Oswell, a podiatrist at The Foot Center at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers in Los Angeles who claims, “Wearing flip-flops can be seriously detrimental for people whose feet are already at risk: For people with diabetes, who often have poor circulation and feeling in their feet, wearing flip-flops can expose them not only to injury but to infection. Those with balance issues may find it hard to feel secure when wearing rubbery flip-flops. And for those suffering from obesity, sporting the unstructured shoe can add strain to feet that are already stressed with carrying extra weight.”
The real problem is that people are wearing flip-flops while doing everything from skateboarding to gardening to running errands, Dr. Oswell said. "It's not that they wear them," claims Dr. Oswell. "They overwear them."
Crocs, which have some structure, cushion and breathability, can be an easy alternative to flip-flops, while sandals with a substantial foot bed and softer and broader straps are also a better option, Dr. Oswell said.
Read the complete CNN special report by Marina Csomor here.
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