No matter what your grandmother thinks, flip-flops are a respectable summer shoe choice -- from the pool to a swanky evening out on the town. "while flip-flops are perfectly fine -- and far better than going barefoot -- in a number of settings, they do have some drawbacks," warns Christina Sigur, a podiatrist and instructor in orthopedics at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "They really don't offer too much support or protection. Wearing them too often or for certain intensive activities can lead to a variety of foot problems."
Here are five smart tips for wearing flip-flops, courtesy of the American Podiatric Medical Association:
- Purchase flip-flops made of high-quality soft leather. Leather minimizes the potential for blisters and other types of irritation.
- Gently bend the flip-flop from end to end, ensuring it bends at the ball of the foot. Shoes of any kind should never fold in half. Do not choose shoes that are too flimsy.
- Make sure your foot doesn't hang off of the edge of the flip-flop. A good shoe fit is vital to healthy feet.
- Don't wear the same pair of flip-flops year after year. If they show signs of severe wear, discard them.
- Don't ignore irritation between toes, specifically where the toe thong fits. This can lead to blisters and possible infections.
When it comes to avoiding injury, always use your common sense.
- Don't wear flip-flops while walking long distances. Even the sturdiest flip-flops offer little in terms of shock absorption and arch support.
- Never do yard work while wearing flip-flops. Always wear shoes that fully protect your feet when doing outside activities, such as mowing the lawn or using a string trimmer.
- Don't play sports in flip-flops. This can lead to twisting of the foot or ankle, as well as sprains and breaks.