Flip-Flops May Not Be So Bad After All

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Last spring I wrote a blog about my obsession with my beloved flip-flops. With the exception of a few months during the winter, flip-flops are my primary spring, summer and fall shoe staple. I wear them almost every day, the only exception is when I am running or attending an event that requires closed toe shoes.

Flip-flops are notorious for receiving a bad rap from the medical community due to their flimsy construction and lack of arch support. In a recent study conducted by Chicago's Rush University Medical Center published in the February 2010 online journal Arthritis Care & Research flip-flops may actually be a better choice of footwear for individuals with are suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee .

In a study of 31 adults with symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers analyzed the gait and peak knee loads of these individuals wearing four various types of footwear: Dansko Clogs, Brooks Addiction stability shoes, Puma H Street flat walking shoes and flip-flops. Surprisingly, the stability shoes and clogs led to greater knee adduction when compared to the flip-flops or even barefoot walking.

According to lead author of the study, Dr. Najia Shakoor in an article published in the Science Blog, heel height and inflexibility of the clogs and stability shoes could be a partly to blame for the increase in knee load.

But before you get ready to hang up your clogs and stability shoes for your favorite flip-flops, note that there are other issues with wearing flip-flops. Your risk for tripping and developing back and foot issues wearing these shoes have been noted in other studies.

So what is one to do? This is where you must find what works best for you and as with everything else in life, moderation is key.

Do the results of this study surprise you? Does this change your opinion regarding wearing different footwear?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I use to wear flip flops all the time as a kid. Because I wore pointed shoes too long as a child and my extra weight, I really can't wear them for any length of time. Report
I am not to sure about their "study of 31 people." Everyone has different tastes, those that wish to use "floppies" will and those that feel differently will change. Report
I love flip flops. I am not fond of the thong though. I apply a bandaid on it. They were a life saver when I was preggers. Now that I am diabetic I only wear them in the house.. Report
Hmmm! Flip flops! The only shoe that is really comfortable on me. I have large feet for a worman (size 11) with a narrow heel and wide toes. Nothing else really fits. Report
Since my bunion surgery and a plantar fasciitis episode I prefer socks and shoes. However every day I wear Okabashi sandals to and from the pool. They have great arch support, and the men's sandals are made for my foot shape, love them. I also have some Birkies that have stars and stripes, and are rubber not leather. I love to wear these for patriotic events. Report
I absolutely LOVE my flip flops. I wear them to work, church, store, anywhere I go I wear my flops. Every now and then I wear my dress shoes to church but very seldom or I'll wear my comfy union bay boots. I'm all for comfortable, plain, and simple. Report
Well I've never really did flip flops Report
I've hated flip-flops for years but then again I also hated heels for years and now they are both apart of my footwear. I rather be barefoot any day but since shoes are a required part of living you just have to balance your shoes like anything else in your life. Too much of one type can cause an issue but switching between several makes it better and reduces the risks. Just please don't tell me you walk around in 8-inch platform shoes every day. That's begging for something to go wrong. Report
I love flip flop season! I extend it for as long I as possibly can but since I live in Washington State it's not nearly as long as I would like! Report
I live in california and wear sandals pretty much all day, every day. I do believe in investing in a really good pair, like Reefs to protect you feet and ankles, replace them when the soles wear out and I don't wear them for things like hiking (duh!). And I don't wear uggs (which are just as bad for your feet as cheep sandals) during the winter so my feet always have arch support. Report
Flip-flops anyday for me! Report
I have a pair of Croc flip flops that I wear like house slippers during the warm weather. They are also great for doing jobs that may get my feed wet. For going out, I love my FitFlops. These shoes are awesome!! Report
I love flip flops / sandals / barefeet! I hate closed toe shoes and hate winter because of it. I also hate socks! LOL Report
I love flip flops! I live on an island on the coast of south Texas, and that is all I wear except a couple of months during the winter as well. They have so many styles, dressy and casual and quite a few have very good support features. The key is to find those that fit well, have some type of support or "cush" and dont require your feet to work to keep them on. Report
Yeah, I'm a little surprised, but the reasoning makes sense, depending on the nature of one's knee issue. Osteoarthritis isn't the only issue out there in knee-land. As you know, I have pronated arches (Heck, Nanc, we even compared bunions, LOL) :-). I don't know the scientific jargon for it, but that has caused my knee to actually function out of alignment for all these 40+ yrs and my kneecap to actually slide over a few mm's. Life w/o orthotics is now an unlikely future for me & folks like me. Barefoot is minimal & flip flops only at the pool. {sigh}

But this study is very good news, indeed, for folks w/ normal arches & no major knee issues. Flip flop on!
♥ ♥ ♥ Report
I Too love my Flip Flops. But I think you have to pay attention to what makes you feel good. If It hurts dont wear them, or wear in moderation. I also find it is more comfortable for my Knees to workout in a knockoff Crock shoe they makle my feet and Knees feel better. I did find that the Crocs Brand doesn't fit as well as the knockoff That I bought at a chain Hardware store for Gardening. They are softer and have a snugger fit in the heel. Report
I love flip flops. I would wear them all day everyday if I didn't have to wear tennis shoes to work :( Report
I LOVE my flip-flips.....all brands and styles! If they would only make a fur lined pair for PA winters!!! Report
The Podiatrist blamed my hammer toe on wearing flip flops which I wore for most of the time for several summers. I had to scrunch my toes to keep them on. It has been two years since I quit wearing them and that toe is better but still is somewhat bent. Report
I've never been a flip flop fan. Partially because when I wear them, they hurt my feet. I have tiny short toes, and my feet are kind of brick shaped, so many flip flops don't fit me properly, or the little part between my toes become irritated. :D If other people enjoy them, they should. But I also don't think that this study (what I've read so far) says that flip flops aren't without their dangers of poor construction and flimsy arch support. It really seems to state more that heel height and inflexibility of the clogs and stability shoes are harder on knees rather than anything about the benefits of flip flops.

Then again, I'm biased... I mean, flip flops are uncomfortable for me. Report
It really doesn't surprise me much, nor do I really care, like you, I wear my flip flops every chance I get, and they are comfortable, actually relax me, I don't trip. The only hang up I have with them, is when I am shopping and I have to touch some, it give me a static shock LOL. I will continue to be a flip flops kinda gal, my feet like their freedom and who am I to stand in the way of a good thing? Report
No, the results of this study do not surprise me, during the time when flip flops were getting a lot of blame for feet problems I was still of the opinion that going bare-foot or almost bare-foot was the best for ones feet. (I'm kind of a nature girl.)
This study does not change my opinion regarding wearing other foot wear as long as the foot wear you are wearing is comfortable. Many beautiful shoes are very bad for your feet. =( If they would only manufacture a shoe that was both beautiful and comfortable. Report
I have diabetic neuropathy in my feet. I wear sneakers most of the time. I bless my house slippers. They are so comfortable! Report
I love my flip flops..and my flip flop style dress sandals. I've always been a barefoot kinda girl. I'm glad that I live in an area where I can wear my flipflops most of the year, accept for a few weeks in the dead of winter. Crocs aren't my thing I've heard some bad things..but then again I've heard bad things about flipflops too. To each their own. Report
Croc flip flops are my staple year round. Report
One of my friends wears flip-flops all year long, even in the winter. She is also very overweight, and working to lose it. I love going barefoot, but since I have diabetes, I can't go barefoot, except in the house. As far as flip-flops go, I think they are alright to wear occasionally, but I would rather wear my shoes. Report
Flip-flops are my shoe of choice of course I would rather be barefoot if possible. Thankfully I live where it is an option 9 months of the year! My knees feel better when I wear flip-flops! I was just diagnosed with arthritis of the knees and I notice when I wear flip-flops or even flat shoes my knees feel better than when I wear a small heal - 1" even. I love the flip-flop and that my knees don't hurt when I wear them. Granted you have to be careful, due to tripping and things like that, but I love flip-flops. They are making some nice ones that conform to your feet - Birkenstock has some nice ones out. I have had a couple of different pair that conform to your feet and they are comfortable. I know there are times when flip-flops are not a good choice and I have a couple pair of flats that I wear then. Report
hmm do them make a flipflop that you can put an orthotic in?

...for me I need the support for my arch, so they don't work? I suppose for a brief time in a shower room area or pool area but for me they are not substantial for long distance walking....so I am disagreeing ! Report
I LIVE in FitFlops; I could never stand to have anything between my toes before I discovered them. I even wear them sightseeing - I put over 17000 steps on my pedometer a few weeks ago while I was wearing them. Report
Lifelong barefoot girl here whenever possible, and the most minimal footwear possible when I can't be barefoot. I have heels/pumps when the occasion calls for it, but like dessert, it's a sometimes thing, not all the time thing, and like dessert fun but not particularly good for me. Report
I heard about this the other day on Fox News and was surprised when they were talking about this. I have flip flops, also shoes which are flat, and wearing them does help, but not full time, still like my shape-ups the best, but then I find that going back to my flats after the work out is helpful. Report
I also love fit-flops- they work the legs and don't bother my arches (have flat feet since a car accident 15 years ago- so I can't wear flipflops that don't have arches & padding)- time for a pedicure! Report
I love flip flops. I can hardly wait for warmer weather so I can use my many FF.
During the winter months I use slip on shoes. They are good for your calf muscles to stay in shape. I only wear my tennis shoes when I go to the Y and when weather is nasty and wet. Report
I discovered Fit Flops,they are the most comfortable shoes I have worn. I can walk in them as if I were wearing a walking shoe. I bought the fit flop clog for the winter. Report
I'm almost flat footed and I have a hard time keeping the flat soled flip flops on and sometimes trip. I have found that flip flops with a raised platform like the sports version is more comfortable. I like the convience and openess of the flip flops and I wish I could where more of a variety of them. Barefoot around the house is still my preference. Report
As we all know, bodies are different. Flip flops are by themselves neither good nor bad. Just as an anti-pronation shoe would give someone who doesn't pronate problems, flip-flops would be a bad idea for someone with flat feet/pronation issues. You have to fit your shoe to your body, not your body to the fashion. Report
I cannot wear flip-flops - I just walk right out of them - I cannot keep shoes on that do not come up around my ankle. My daughter says you have to keep them on with your toes - what ever that means.
Just give me a good pair of sneakers - thank you !! Report
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my flip flops!! I am always bare footed around home, but when I go out it is flip flops for me!! I do wear good walking shoes when I'm excercising, but other than that it is flip flops...

Every spring my grand daughter and I go flip flop shopping. It is a girly girl thing for us and a great way to spend time with my adult grand daughter!! Report
Flip-flops led me to some foot and knee problems. I do still wear ones with good arch support in moderation, but I LOVE my Danskos (have a new pair on today) and have them in several styles - which has helped my feet and knees tremendously. Report
I have a pair of "Fit Flops" they are wonderful, I wear them from spring right through to Autumn, would be without them:-D Report
Try to tell that to my podiatrist when he's treating my plantar fasciatis . I can't agree with this. There are some feet that need support and flip flops are deadly. Report
Flip flops are my shoe of choice year-round, I live in So Cal so I even wear them in winter Report
I love my Birkenstock, I have about 15 pairs,different style and colors,I don't like shoe,I only wear them if I have to, Report
I've been wearing knock-offs of the original style Crocs for over 2 years to walk in ( my major cardio in winter, walking 3mi plus a week). They are light weight, flat heeled & hurt my RA ridden feet ankles & knees less than the "walking shoes" I used to buy, as this article would suggest. Just bought a pair of Croc slides to wear with my summer dresses.They are as close to flip-flops as I can go, with my twisted toes. Delighted to hear they should be good for me, too! Yay!! Report
I also hate shoes. I go barefoot around the house but when I go out, I wear Teva sandals. They are the most comfortable. I wear them for my daily walk. I only wear shoes when I have to. Report
I love the update --- cause I love me some flip flops!!! Thank you for the update. As I was reading this, I was wondering about how this all compares with the barefoot running aspect. There is still so much discussion going on about that. Report
My flip flops are made by Birkenstock...so the best of both worlds! And in winter, they are great for my hot flashes! :) Report
So a Spark Friend sent me this because she knows I wear flip flops all the time! I switch to shoes in the winter months, but when I'm indoors, during them, it's flip flips! I love them and other then church or stuff like that, the flops are what I wear. Interesting story and I'll stick with still wearing them! Happy Flipping, flopper friends! Report
I do wear flip flops in the summer. It is nothing like have a pedi and showing it off in fip flops. The one thing I do try to keep in mind, where I am going determines if flip flops are appropriate or not. Report
You will play HARD to get me out of my Birkenstocks! I LIVE in them when not hiking or working! Report
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.