• You Might Like Flip Flops But Your Feet Don’t

    June 10, 2019 | By Tony Yong

    Flip-Flops and Foot Health

    The summer season is finally here, and for many this means that 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.

    The truth is, this quick change-over from supportive shoes to sandals is almost sure to aggravate foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, arthritis, bunions, tendonitis, and more.

    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. On top of that, most sandals don’t provide any arch support, so going from supportive shoes straight into a flexible and flat flip flop often causes strain to the arch of the foot and over-pronation (a collapsing of the arch and rolling in of the ankle).

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

    So how do we prevent this?

    Part of the long-term solution is to strengthen the small muscles that support the arch of your foot, as well as those that provide ankle stability (Huffer, Dean, et al., 2017).

    There is a growing body of research that 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) so that your foot has to do the work to 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, and ideally with the help of a physiotherapist or other expert.

    Either way, if you’re having pain, the easy answer is to return to supportive footwear (ie. put your comfy shoes back on) until the pain subsides.

    4 Recommendations to Wearing Sandals without Getting Foot Pain

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

    • Wear sandals that have a comfortable and supportive arch to absorb impact.
    • Ensure the sandal secures all the way around your foot (so your toes don’t have to do the job of holding the sandal on).
    • Choose a protective rubber sole, to minimize the risk of slips.
    • Wear flip flops only when you’ll be doing very little walking, such as around the back yard or lounging poolside.

    What’s Next?

    Are you suffering from plantar fasciitis, 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!

    Book an appointment with one of Innovation Physical Therapy’s experienced physiotherapists by calling one of our 6 clinics located throughout Edmonton and Sherwood Park including Riverbend, Meadowlark, Belvedere, Namao, Sherwood Park or our newest clinic in West Henday.


    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.