We’ve all fallen in love with a deadbeat we know isn’t good for us and have gone through months (or even years) of unnecessary agonizing pain while dragging our feet when it comes to the inevitable big break up. We all say we’ve learned our lesson and would never get into a relationship with a loser again, so let’s take that lesson and apply it to our relationship with flip flops. After all, they’re just as bad — if not worse — for you and your health as a bum boyfriend or girlfriend. Don’t believe us? Check out these flip flop faults that’ll have you shaking (in your boots, because you’ll never want to wear flip flops again).
#1: They expose your feet to bacterial, fungal and viral infections
Experts agree that when it comes to hanging out at the beach, pool, spa or gym locker room, flip flops help protect your feet from nasty infections like plantar warts and athlete’s foot. But outside of these areas, flip flops actually leave you more exposed to filth and germs from things like animal droppings, urine, feces, vomit and spit present on the ground (and believe us when we tell you, these revolting substances are everywhere). In fact, a University of Miami study found that over 18,000 bacteria live on an average pair of flip flops, and many play host to the potentially lethal bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which can lead to serious infections and even limb amputation or death, depending on your overall state of health.
#2: They shred your heels, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia
With just a flimsy piece of foam, plastic or other material separating your foot from the ground, it’s easy to see that flip flops offer zero foot support and cushioning. This means that your heel-strike impact is much more intense than it would be in supportive shoes, which can lead to heel pain and other conditions like Achilles tendonitis, plantar fascia pain (pain in the arch of your foot), and stress fractures (tiny cracks in the foot bones). And who needs problems like those?
#3: They permanently ruin your tootsies and can cause hammertoes
Anyone who wears flip flops knows that having only a small strip of plastic or fabric keeping the shoe in place means you must grip your toes to keep the shoes on while walking. This repetitive gripping not only leads to overuse of the toe muscles, but can also trigger painful conditions like bunions, tendonitis and hammertoes (a contraction of the joints that causes the toes to permanently bend in an uncomfortable, abnormal position). Making a small swap to strappy sandals (preferably with straps that hold the midfoot in place) can help you avoid toe stiffness, pain and possible surgery that comes along with the annoying conditions mentioned above.
#4: They leave your feet vulnerable to nasty injuries
With most of your feet left out in the open while wearing flip flops, your tootsies are much more vulnerable to injuries like bruised and stubbed toes, or heavy objects falling on them. In fact, physical therapists and podiatrists see hundreds of foot and nail injuries due to flip flops every year. It's best to stick with sneakers or other protective shoes, especially when working.
*Editor's Note: A sad new trend in the flip flop world is getting your toes stomped on at music festivals. Ouch! Better stick to shoes that preotect those tootsies while dancing through the sunset.
#5: They cause blisters
Flip flops often cause liquid-filled sores called blisters because the small piece of flimsy plastic or other material holding the shoe on your foot often rubs against the skin in a repetitive fashion. The resulting blisters or irritated skin can lead to an open wound that leaves you more susceptible to picking up bacteria, fungus and viruses. Meanwhile, your foot is constantly moving around in flip flops, and that motion creates friction that can cause burning on the sole of the foot, especially on hot days when your feet are wet and sweaty. And we're pretty sure that's definitely not the kind of hot you were going for when getting ready for the day.
#6: They ruin your body alignment and posture — for life
Super flat shoes that don’t bend where your foot naturally bends have the ability to drastically affect your posture and biomechanics. And this is especially true of flip flops, which cause you to take shorter strides and turn your ankles inward, says an Auburn University study. While it may not sound serious, major changes in your gait (the natural way you walk and run) can cause serious chronic pain in the ankles, knees, hips, back and neck.
#7: Many are made from toxic or irritating materials
A lot of flip flops are made from plastic that contains BPA, a toxin that has been linked to various cancers. And many others are made from plastic that contains latex, which many people are allergic to. Yuck!
#8: They leave your feet susceptible to sunburns and sun damage
More and more people have realized the importance of wearing sunscreen, but a large percentage of people forget to apply the protecting lotion to their feet. When you’re wearing flip flops and don’t use sunscreen, your feet are exposed to harmful sun rays all day long, which can lead to sunburns, skin cancer, and totally strange tan lines.
#9: They cause trips, falls and trampling
Flip flops may be comfortable, but they result in clumsy walking that easily leads to trips and falls that can cause sprained ankles, broken toes and scratches on the skin. Additionally, they increase your chances of being trampled in a crowd (here’s looking at you again, festival goers!).
#10: They lead to exhausted feet
As we’ve mentioned above, flip flops start out comfortable, but they eventually force the muscles, joints and tendons in your feet to work much harder than they should, which not only can lead to serious issues like hammertoes and planter fasciitis, but can also lead to tired feet that ache at the end of the day. And just like with that disappointing romantic partner, anything that causes pain should be tossed from your life — the sooner, the better!