Most of us wear flip flops in the summer because they are easy to wear and more importantly, allow your feet to breathe in the hot weather.
However the simple, but free footwear can cause damage to your feet, an expert has warned.
Walking in flip-flops can alter your natural pace, resulting in shin splints, Achilles tendon problems and lower back pain, according to podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon Dr Christina Long.
They can also result in plantar fasciitis, that is inflammation of the band of tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot, as well as hammer toes and stress fractures.
It’s also easy to bump a toe or trip and fall while wearing flip-flops.
‘This time of year I frequently see patients with foot conditions related to wearing flip-flops,’ said Dr Long, who works at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.
‘Wearing flip-flops is better than going barefoot because they do provide some protection for the bottoms of your feet, but that’s about it.
‘Flip-flops don’t offer any arch or heel support, and you have to grip them with your toes to keep them on.
‘Wearing them for too long or for the wrong activity can cause a lot of different problems,’ she explained.
Risks of permanent damage
An Achilles tendon injury is damage to the tendon which links calf muscles to the heel bone and can also be caused by wearing high heels.
Recovery may take months, depending on how serious the injury.
If you start pushing yourself before the Achilles tendon injury is fully healed, you could end up with permanent pain and disability.
Plantar fasciitis, the thickening of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue running under the sole of the foot, can be very painful.
Most cases resolve within a year, but if the heel pain is truly devastating and interfering with normal activity, surgery may be needed.
Wearing flip-flops too often can lead to minor but irritating problems such as chafing, blisters, calluses and soreness.
They can also leave your feet exposed and susceptible to cuts, puncture wounds, bruises, torn nails, insect bites and sunburn.
Get arch support and cushioned soles
But Dr Long advised that the popular footwear should not cause serious problems when they are worn for a brief time.
‘Flip-flops are fine for short-term use, especially if they have at least some arch support and a cushioned sole,’ she said.
‘They’re good to wear at the beach, around swimming pools, in showers and locker rooms at the gym, on short trips to the store.’
However, she warns that there are some activities where you should waive the flip-flops entirely.
Driving is one of them, it’s easy for the shoes to slip off and they can get lodged between the pedals and the floor.
Also, never use them to when running, hiking, walking long distances, standing for extended periods, working in the yard or around the house or playing sports.