Flip flops have been piled with bad press, but are they actually bad? Some studies have been done, but unfortunately, they compare flip-flops to shoes, not bare feet. What are we to make of such studies? Let’s examine some of these claims.
Are Flip-Flops Dangerous?
The lack of arch support can cause another common foot injury: plantar fasciitis. People with flatter arches are more prone to such overuse injuries because they need more support for their muscles and ligaments (source).
Transitioning from supported shoes to unsupported flip-flops can result in planter fasciitis. However, the problem isn’t with the flip-flops themselves, but weak arches that have become dependent on artificial support, and can no longer support themselves.
Flip-flop wearers took shorter steps and that their heels hit the ground with less vertical force than when the same walkers wore athletic shoes (source)
While this is true, there is nothing wrong about taking shorter steps. It is actually safer to take shorter steps, and reducing injury is a good thing.
Flip-flops alters the way one walks, changing the gait in subtle ways that can lead to serious sole, heel and ankle problems (source).
Yes, flip-flops do alter gait, but compared to shoes. One could also say that wearing shoes alters one’s gait compared to flip-flops or bare feet. It’s possible that wearing flip-flops long term could have negative effects, though I don’t believe such research has been done. It would be more interesting to find a study that compares the gait of those who wear flip-flops and shoes to those who go barefoot.