WUSA9.com, "Ditch or not ditch: The dangers of flip flops"

Published June 21, 2017

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - What is summer without flip flops? 

Flip flops are a staple when it comes to the dog days of summer -- but is the fashion worth jeopardizing our health for?

We spoke with Dr. Daniel Cuttica, a foot and ankle surgeon with The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, who practices in Falls Church, Va. He gave us some insight on summer's hottest shoe. 

The big question is: are flip flops possibly the most dangerous footwear?

"There is definitely a lot of truth to that," Dr. Cuttica explained. 

But don't fret! Dr. Cuttica added, "everything in moderation." 

So don't go parting ways with your summer love, the flip flop just yet. Dr. Cuttica answered a few questions about our flip flop concerns.

  • Why are flip flops often labeled as "dangerous shoes?" There are lots of issues that can come from wearing flip flops, including injuries, clumsiness and overuse of the foot. 
  • What are some of the most common injuries that flip flop wearers should be concerned about? Because flip flops have very little support and very little arch support, injuries are not uncommon. Some of the most frequent injuries are overuse, stress fractures, muscle pains, tendonitis, arch pain and heel pain (which side note: can be difficult to treat.) Additionally, flip flops make you clumsy, which makes it easier to trip and fall, leading to potential strains and fractures. 
  • Are there any other issues that can come from wearing flip flops?  Because flip flops provide very little protection, flip flop wearers sometimes get stepped on. Flip flop wearers often have to deal with cuts, sunburn, and fungal infections. Wearing flip flops can also damage toes because it is hard work to hold the flip flops under your feet. Sometimes hammertoes can develop from wearing flip flops too long. 

  • How soon should you see a professional if you believe you have any of the above-mentioned injuries? If you are experiencing some sort of pain and it lingers more than a couple of days, you should visit a medical specialist. 

  • When should or shouldn't you wear flip flops? It's all about moderation. It's best to avoid wearing flip flops when walking long distances, sightseeing, running, etc.(OR when you DON'T have a pedicure.) Flip flops should only be worn when walking short distances or at the beach. 

  • What are some good alternatives? Wearing sandals with a strap will help with support and are better than wearing flip flops. Dr. Cuttica also recommends the following flip flop brands: SOLE, Quiva and Birkenstock. Always look for flip flops with a stiff sole, more support and something that isn't too flimsy. Additionally, the sole should have some traction on it so you can't slip. 

  • How often should you get new flip flops? Dr. Cuttica said flip flops should be changed every season or about every six months. 

  • Is it safe to drive in flip flops? Driving with flip flops on is not advised, because it is very easy for the flip flop to get wedged between the pedal and floor. But driving barefoot is also not recommended. The pedal and brake are not the most hygienic places to put your feet. Driving without shoes on can expose your feet to bacteria etc. It's best to always driving in some sort of shoes. 

The moral of the story is: Too much of anything is never good. You don't need to go ditching your flip flops -- but try reevaluating when or where you decide to throw them into your wardrobe mix. 

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