Flip flops are a great shoe to wear in Puerto Vallarta. They keep your feet cool. They’re easy to throw on. They come in a million great colors and patterns. What’s not to love about flip flops? I wear them and I bet you do too.
Remember the words in Jimmy Buffett’s song, “Margaritaville”?
“I blew out my flip flop
Stepped on a pop top
Cut my heel,
had to cruise on back home.”
Poor Jimmy. He learned that flip flops can be hazardous to his health. And he sang about it. He may have been onto something: In 2016, there were 27,000 Emergency Room visits related to flip flops!
Here are a few tips to help you decide when to wear flip flops.
Flip flops are fine in the house, around the pool, at the beach, or for walking to the corner store. They provide protection for the bottom of your feet. They prevent catching athlete’s foot or plantar warts. But they do not protect the top of your feet. You risk stubbed toes, glass cuts and puncture wounds, not to mention a heavy object smashing your foot.
You may not want to wear flip flops for running, hiking, playing sports, or walking long distances. This is hard on your ankles, your knees, and your feet. A 2008 study found that wearing flip flops changes the way we walk, affecting gait and posture. Fearing flip flops also increases the risk of fractures and falls.
Your toes grip your flip flops to keep them on. Some of the toe bones curl up and some down. This leads to hammertoes, corns, and calluses. It can cause or aggravate plantar fasciitis, arthritis, tendinitis, heel spurs, blisters, and bunions.
And it’s not a good idea to wear flip flops when you are driving. Your flip flops can slip off your feet and get stuck under the brake or the gas pedal. If you have diabetes, flip flops are never a good idea because any foot injury can become serious and you might not know it.
Flip flops are not all bad. They allow our toes to spread. They are usually flat (minimal heel) which encourages your natural arch support. They are better than high heels! But we will save that discussion for another time. I’ve already run out of space here.
You can reduce some of the risks described by making sure your flip flips fit snuggly around your forefoot. And by replacing your flip flops every two or three months. Or by wearing a sandal that has a heel strap.
Here’s an intelligent movement that will counteract some of the negative effects of wearing flip flops:
Seated Top of Foot Stretch
1. Sit in a chair in good posture.
2. Breathe in. Breathe out. Become aware of your breath.
3. Bring your right foot under the chair. Press the top of your foot into the floor.
4. Stay here for 3, 6, 9 breaths. Listen to your inner athlete.
5. Return your right foot to the start position. Repeat on the left.
6. You can also stretch the top of your foot while you are standing.
7. If you do, this becomes a balancing move so be sure to have a safe point (wall, chair, railing, shopping cart) to reach for.
Check out previous articles or my website for other movements involving feet, ankles, toes. They will help too.
Flip flops are fun and convenient, and you probably won’t stop wearing them. But you may want to stop wearing flip flops on some occasions, given what you know now.
Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for education and information only. It is not a substitute for a doctor’s opinion.