While towering stilettos may be the worst offenders when it comes to causing foot pain, they're at least stylish and sexy – which is more than can be said for flip flops. These noisy rubber sandals really have nothing to offer, unless you're trying to avoid foot fungus in a public shower.
In fact, an analysis by researchers at Auburn University's Department of Kinesiology showed exactly why flip flops are a poor choice of shoes.
Clinical evidence that flip flops are a pain in the feet
Authors of the study – which was presented at a meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine – examined the biomechanics of 39 volunteers, half of whom wore sneakers and the remainder wore flip flops. They found that when wearing the latter, individuals tend to walk differently than they would in more supportive footwear.
"We found that when people walk in flip flops, they alter their gait, which can result in problems and pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back," said study co-author Justin Shroyer, Ph.D., as quoted in The New York Times.
Specifically, people had a tendency to grip the flip flops with their toes, pointing them downward as they step forward. (Anyone who's ever tripped in thong sandals knows how this goes down, and it ain't pretty, because it can cause you to twist your ankle, stub your toe on the ground or even fall.) Additionally, flip flop wearers didn't exert as much force on their heel when landing, compared to people in sneakers.
Sandals need arch support, too
If, for whatever reason, you love flip flops so much that you just can't bear the idea of a summer without them, at least be careful about what pair you select.
The Huffington Post recently published an article giving seven tips for healthy feet, one of which was to avoid wearing flip flops – go figure. However, an expert gave some tips for thong enthusiasts on how to choose a pair that may minimize foot pain.
"Not all flip flops are created equally," said podiatrist and American Podiatric Medical Association spokesperson Jane Anderson, quoted by The HuffPo.
She suggested looking for a pair of sandals that has arch support, a sturdy sole and thick straps, which may help reduce the toe-grip effect and keep the footwear in place.