You Might Like Flip Flops, But Your Feet Don't.

Flip-Flops and Foot Health


The summer season is finally here; for many, it’s time to kick off the boots and sneakers and trade them in for some flip-flops. However, all too often, this soon leads to blisters, foot pain, and even pain further up the chain: ankles, knees, hips, and back.


This quick change-over from supportive shoes to sandals aggravates foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, arthritis, bunions, tendonitis, and more.

flip flops at the beach
lying by the pool

Why does summer footwear cause pain?

The answer is that sandals and flip-flops change the mechanics of walking. Think about it: you grip hard with your toes and likely shuffle your feet, which shortens your stride. Most sandals don’t provide any arch support. Going from supportive shoes straight into a flexible and flat flip flop often causes strain to the arch of the foot and overpronation (a collapsing of the arch and rolling in of the ankle).


From there, the strain continues up to the knees, hips, and spine, all of which must compensate.

So how do we prevent this?

Part of the long-term solution is strengthening the small muscles that support your foot’s arch and those that provide ankle stability (Huffer, Dean et al., 2017).


A growing body of research suggests that it may be beneficial to gradually strengthen and transition to less supportive footwear (Hollander, Karsten, et al., 2017; Franklin, Simon et al., 2015). Doing this makes your foot absorb impact and support itself, rather than using arch support or orthotics as a crutch.


If you choose to go this route, the transition should be done over many weeks, ideally with the help of a physiotherapist or other expert.


If you’re having pain, the easy answer is to return to supportive footwear (i.e., put your comfy shoes back on) until the pain subsides.

4 Recommendations for Wearing Sandals without Getting Foot Pain

If you want that sandal tan this summer and you’re not having pain, here are four recommendations:

  • Wear sandals that have a comfortable and supportive arch to absorb impact.
  • Ensure the sandal secures around your foot, so your toes don’t have to hold the sandal on.
  • Choose a protective rubber sole to minimize the risk of slips.
  • Wear flip-flops only when you’re walking little, such as around the backyard or lounging poolside.

What's Next?

Are you suffering from plantar fasciitis or ankle or leg pain?

Physiotherapists are highly trained healthcare professionals who help people recover from aches and pain in the feet and legs along with the rest of the body!

Please book an appointment with one of Innovation Physical Therapy’s experienced physiotherapists by calling one of our clinics in Edmonton, including RiverbendBelvedereNamao, or our newest clinic in Southgate Centre.


Huffer, Dean, et al. “Strength training for plantar fasciitis and the intrinsic foot musculature: A systematic review.” Physical Therapy in Sport 24 (2017): 44-52.

Hollander, Karsten, et al. “Long-term effects of habitual barefoot running and walking: a systematic review.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 49.4 (2017): 752-762.

Franklin, Simon, et al. “Barefoot vs common footwear: a systematic review of the kinematic, kinetic and muscle activity differences during walking.” Gait & posture 42.3 (2015): 230-239.