This fall you might consider packing up a summer favorite — flip-flops — for good. That’s because according to a number of medical professionals — including podiatrists, foot and ankle orthopedists and others — flip-flops “single handedly cause more problems with people’s feet in the last couple of years than any other type of shoe”, states Dr. Rock Positano, a podiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
The reason? Most flip-flop-related medical problems are a result of accidents due to their lack of support. Many people who wear flip-flops complain of eventual nerve problems in their feet after wearing flip-flops chronically over the course of a number of years. Others stumble out of their flips on wet surfaces and twist ankles or incur other damage to their feet and ankles.
And for those with flat feet, flip-flops are a recipe for disaster. According to Dr. Positano, “these foot types normally will predispose a person to developing problems with their tendons with joint stability.” Down the road that can translate into chronic tendonitis or problems not only in the feet but in the ankle, knee, hip and back.
Though, like anything else, everything in moderation is OK. So this winter if those pair of flip-flops you eyed all summer go on sale, it’s OK to pick them up. Wearing them 24/7, however, might not be such a good idea. Instead, consider mixing up your footwear to include other, more supportive (and comfortable) options.
The obvious “Plan B” to the flip-flops is a new trend that has taken hold in the U.S., Canada and other regions around the world: the ugliest footwear to be developed since the implementation of velcro on a shoe: Crocs. Crocs are the clog-like shoes in bright colors whose owners swear by their comfort. Croc lovers say they bring health benefits above and beyond their comfort. Comedian Bill Maher refers to them as “the footwear Americans can hose down” but others have a more favorable opinion of them. According to the co-founder and Vice President of Crocs, Lyndon Hanson, III, they’re (Crocs) certified by the U.S. Ergonomics Council and the American Podiatric Medical Association. Hanson says that what Crocs lack in aesthetic value (they’re really ugly), they make up in therapeutic benefits. Today some doctors are even recommending them to patients with foot problems.
Harold Glickman, DPM, says that “Crocs have lots of room in the toe that affords the front part of the foot plenty of room, especially for people with bone deformities like bunions and hammer toe.”
For people with diabetes, Crocs offer added value in the protection they provide. Because people with diabetes have reduced circulation in their feet — which can eventually lead to uncomfortable neuropathic pain — Glickman says they’re at risk for developing open sores and wound infections. The spare room in the Crocs, and the antibacterial properties of the CrocRx (medicated Crocs) help fight these problems.
The verdict? You can’t put a price on happy feet. You can, however, get a ticket from the fashion police. Consider all of your options next time you lunge for the flip-flops. After all, we’re headed for a whole new season of ugly (but remarkably comfortable) footwear: Uggs.