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Ask the Expert: Flip flops OK?

 Kerry Dernbach, D.P.M.
Kerry Dernbach, D.P.M.
Sees patients at Marshfield Clinic Weston, Wausau and Merrill Centers.

Question: Are flip-flops OK for my feet?​

Actually, no. I’m seeing a lot of patients complaining of foot pain from wearing flip-flops constantly.

They suffer from overuse injuries of the foot, causing pain that extends from the heel and arch, and often all the way to the back and hip.

I can treat most of these with adequate supports, rest, and/or anti-inflammatory medications.

Then I advise these patients to wean their way off the flip-flops and on to footwear with more arch support and cushioning.

The problem is that flip-flops give no support to the bottom of your foot, so it can twist and turn in different directions, leading to sprains, breaks and falls.

Those thin, flat soles that look so cool also have virtually no shock-absorbing qualities.

Flip-flops are fine for walking by the pool, beach or on warm surfaces (the sandal’s original use).

They are useful in locker rooms or public showers to prevent athlete’s foot and plantar warts.

Just don’t wear them for long periods or for working out.

Several fashionable alternatives are available. Look for something with good arch support, such as Keen, Clark’s and Eastland sandals.

A good choice for people wearing orthotics is NAOT sandals, as they have removable insoles.

Marshfield Clinic provides Pod​​iatry​ in a number of our centers. Your primary care doctor can refer you to the appropriate specialty and location.