Treasure Your Toes: The Flipside of Flip Flops

Picture by Steve Johnson from Valparaiso Indiana, USA (flip flops Uploaded by SchuminWeb) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Someone mentioned on Friday that June 21 was more than just the longest day of the year, it was also National Flip Flop Day(I swear we’re not making this up).  And since the next few days are going to be in the 90s, and many of us like to pull out flip flops or sandals in the hot weather, we thought we’d go over a couple safety basics.

What are some of the hazards of flip flops and sandals (other than potential fashion hazards, of course)? Well, the obvious is that flip flops and many sandals provide greater exposure to your feet.  This could lead to problems such as really hot “dogs”–that is sunburn on your feet if you forget to apply sunscreen there too. There is also a greater risk for bug bites (or worse yet, snakebites), as the varmints will have easier access to your tender tootsies as you stroll through the grass. And, of course, there are the everyday occupational hazards of exposure: stubbing of toes; things falling/people stepping on your feet; and, especially with flip flops, stepping on something that could puncture the footwear, and the foot.

However, WebMD warns that one of the greatest problems may have less to do with your exposed toes and more to do with the structure, or lack thereof, of the summer footwear. “Wearers can suffer foot pain due to lack of arch support, tendinitis, and even sprained ankles if they trip.” They also warn that flip flops might pose a danger when driving as well as walking since they are loose and can easily come off and interfere with or even lodge under the pedals.

We’re not anti-flip flops or sandals though; we’re just suggesting caution. Here are some tips from American Podiatric Association to help protect your piggies:

  • Avoid wearing flip flops or sandals for yard work, sports, or long walks because they do not provide enough protection or support.
  • Inspect older pairs for wear; if they show signs of severe wear, discard them.
  • Check for irritation between toes, where the toe thong fits as this can lead to blisters and possible infections.
  • Shop for footwear made of high-quality, soft leather to minimize the potential for blisters and other types of irritation.
  • Gently bend the sandal or flip flop to ensure it bends at the ball of the foot. Shoes of any kind should never fold in half.
  • Ensure that your foot doesn’t hang off of the edges of the footwear.