As this article in The Guardian says, we’ve had Crocs, Birkenstocks and sliders, but now it seems that Bude is well ahead of the trend as the humble flip-flop so popular here makes a fashion comeback, hitting the spring catwalks with alarming regularity. Retailers are also tipping the humble flip-flop and telling us how to wear them. Obviously, the more expensive they are (or look) the better, from the fashionistas’ point of view, but, perhaps surprisingly, also from the view of a Bude foot health professional.
I’m delighted to advise people that I have several pairs in my shoe collection, including sparkly ones. It’s wonderful to start the year with nothing more to worry about than what to wear in the summer(!) but I do have bad memories of plantar fasciitis … (though I blame ballet flats more than flip flops for that).
Just to bring reality home a little, I asked Bude Foot Health Professional, Steph Jones-Giles whether flip-flops are a bad thing. She explains:
Flipflops are popular because, let’s face it, who doesn’t like to feel the warm sun and a cool breeze on our toes and particularly at the seaside?
They are a perfect barrier when using public showers and around the poolside and so do have their short-term uses.
The key word is short-term, however, as most flipflops and flat sandals provide inadequate structural stability and cushioning for the foot and this can lead to all manner of painful problems. There are more nerve endings per square centimetre in the foot than any other part of the body and so when your feet are aggravated you really know about it! I commonly hear “if my feet hurt, everything hurts” so foot pain is certainly to be avoided.
Problems can occur from overgripping of the toes to keep the backless footwear on. This encourages clawing of the toes and exacerbates hammertoe and bunion problems. There is inadequate arch support and cushioning which can cause pain and inflammation on top of the foot or, more commonly, the bottom with vulnerability at the heel. Plantar Fasciitis can be a painful consequence. This type of footwear can lead to a build up of callus, cause blisters and sometimes corns and in the warm weather, backless shoes can result in very dry, painful cracked heels.
In worst case scenarios ankle sprains and even stress fractures can occur so choose footwear wisely.
That said, none of the above will deter the habitual flipflop wearer, so moving forward I would caution against the very cheap, thin, flimsy flipflops or sandals. In some cases you’d get as much support from the box they come in as the shoe itself! It’s worth paying more for a thicker sole, thicker strap and arch support to give cushioning, shock absorption and greater stability. However, don’t wear them 24/7 just because the sun is out; choose footwear suitable for your activity.
Regularly moisturise with a suitable footcream and seek professional advise if you feel pain, notice a build up of thickened skin, your heel cracks or you feel any uncomfortable lumps and bumps. Do not self diagnose, self treat or ignore pain. Your feet will thank you for looking after them this summertime.
Good advice from Steph, so dig out your flip-flops but don’t wear them all the time.