by Dr. Eric B. Vermander, B.Sc. Hon (H.K.), D.C.

flip flop health


With the summer-like weather (it’s technically still spring), we are often asked this question and the answer is not so simple.

Your choice of flip flops determines the answer.

Flip Flops that are loose, worn out, or flat can lead to a wide range of injuries. Arch strains, ankle sprains, tendonitis and muscle tears are the most common but other more serious injuries, like fracture and fall related injuries can occur that require surgery to repair. The entire lower limb (foot, ankle, knee and leg) can be injured by wearing flip flops adding stress to the hips, pelvis, back and even neck. A 2010 NHS report listed treating 200,000 flip flop injuries annually in the UK cost $73.5 million dollars (CAD)! So, is the answer – they’re “Bad” for you?

Not exactly.

Flip flops that have an ergonomic design can be good for you. Also, ensuring that they fit properly and are in good condition will decrease your chances of injuries. A good design means finding a flip flop that has the following:

  • Full arch – supports your foot and engages your foot/lower leg muscles
  • Heel cup – stabilizes your heel and prevents your foot from slipping off the sandal
  • Proper size – to protect your toes/heels and prevent scrunching your toes to hang on to your sandal.

Brands such as Chaco, Dansko, FitFlop and SOLE have good designs, find a complete list HERE!

Another great option is to get orthotic sandals or flip flop orthotics. We perform an assessment and gait analysis and cast the feet in a foam box. The patient picks a style and within 3 weeks they are custom made and look and feel great! The best part is, most extended health plans cover the cost!

So, the answer is – they’re “Good” for you”!?

Again, not exactly.

Another factor that can contribute to injuries is not using flip flops for their intended use – Walking. They are safely and commonly worn on the beach and in change room showers. Injuries occur with running, hiking, cycling or activities like cutting the grass! Moderation is very important, wearing Flip Flops for a short period of time also helps to prevent injuries.

A very serious issue is – driving with flip flops. Each summer, car accidents are caused by Flip Flops becoming caught under the brake or accelerator pedals and the driver losing control. There are approximately 8 million close calls on the road in North America each summer! Please don’t let this happen to you.

The final answer is… Good AND Bad. Be careful, be aware, choose the right Flip Flop and enjoy the warm weather!

Want to learn more about getting your own custom flip flops? Click here and book an appointment today!