Confession of a Flip-Flop Addict: Are You One, Too?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The minute the temps rise above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it is time for this ol’ Texas girl to pull out one of her many pairs of cute flip-flops. I am a flip-flop addict in every true meaning of the word. I own a pair in almost every color imaginable and one to match almost every outfit in my closet. They range in style from really dressy to ultra athletic. However, as research reveals the dangers of my shoe choice, I may have to bid adieu to my beloved summer shoe preference or at least modify the amount of time I walk in them.

In a study conducted at Auburn University led by biomechanics doctoral student Justin Shroye in 2008, the evidence revealed these shoes can lead to potential injury issues due to the biomechanics of the shoe altering the walking gait of those who choose to wear these types of shoes. This issue can lead to potential back, hip, knee, ankle, and foot problems.

By studying 39 college men and women wearing both flip-flops and athletic footwear, Shroye determined there was some difference in the way the participants walked in each shoe. He had the participants walk on a platform that measured “the vertical force as the walkers’ feet hit the ground” while videotaping the participants “stride lengths and limb angles.”

What the research revealed is when the participants were walking in flip-flops, they tended to take shorter strides while not allowing the same heel strike vertical force as when wearing the athletic shoes. The study also revealed the participants “did not bring their toes up as much during the leg’s swing phase, resulting in a larger ankle angle and shorter stride length, possibly because they tended to grip the flip-flops with their toes.”

While you may be ready to toss your summer favorites into the trash, Shroye did state these shoes do serve a purpose, especially for those who spend time at the beach or need a nice reprieve from their athletic shoe wear. However, it must be emphasized that these shoes are not designed to wear for long-distance walking as there is a potential for injury anywhere along the kinetic chain. In other words, if you are suffering from knee or back issues after wearing flip-flops, you may want to reconsider wearing them the next time you are out for a nice stroll.

So while I may keep a few of my faves, I have decided that for any long distance walks I will wear my walking shoes and reserve my flip-flops for the beach or times when little walking is required.

Are you a flip-flop addict? Have you ever suffered an injury wearing these shoes? Would you still wear them regardless of the injury potential?

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


Since this is the most common footwear in Asia how do the statistics there compare to his research findings? I can cite a study as to the fault bio mechanics caused by over priced and over engineered running shoes. I wear zoris (proper Japanese noun for them) a lot and also five finger shoes. Both have done wonders with abating my hammer toe problem. Report
An ugly, speckled, really thick bottom pair of flip flops, that I had bought in desperation prior to a beach trip, got me through my first bought with heel spurs and plantar fascitis. I'm sure my podiatrist would disagree but after work I had to get my dogs out of shoes but couldn't walk barefoot. They were cushiony and let me get done what I needed to get done. You can't imagine the profound sadness I had when the strap broke the second time and the glue I had used the first time would not work. I had to thow them away. I can't wear the kind that goes between the toes & the others are increasingly hard to find. I finally found a pair of Earth Shoe flip flop type shoes that are my new saving grace. Report
I love having my feet open to the elements and wear a sturdy, supportive flip-flop style shoe whenever I can get away with it. I love that they don't crowd my toes (always an issue for me) and that the pressure points between toes get a chance to heal over the summer. To me, they are much more comfortable than lace up athletic shoes. And yes, I do a LOT of walking in them! Report
My doctor friends have been warning me for years about flip flops. lots of kids are having issues with their feet because of these. I love them when I'm just running a quick errand or hanging out in the yard, but I never where them if I have any walking to do. Report
I have 2 pairs and they are for the shower at my gym. I have knee and joint issues, and they are not supportive. I wear other slide type sandals.
QUILTY! I wear the Havaianas Slims and sorry but I WON't be giving them up. I don't do long distance walking in them but they are my shoe of choice and I have them in every color. LOVE THEM!!! Report
Flip flops have got to be the ugliest things. They have their place: the beach pool or gym, but to see them worn everywhere including the office makes me shake my head Report
Not so much flip-flops, but I do love my Birkenstocks. However, as most point out, there is a time and a place for sandals, flip-flops and the like. I never wear my Birks to the office . . . . . Report
I love shoes I can just slip on and head out the door. However, I don't use flip-flops anymore. A couple years ago, I was really having pain in one of my feet. It was so bad, I would have to hold on to my husband if we walked for any length of time. Even worse, I'm in retail. I spend all my workday on my feet. I would have to spend all my time off work sitting around because my feet hurt so badly.

I finally went to the doctor, and he said it was probably a stress fracture from the sandals I always wore -- they weren't really flip-flops, but they did have that piece between the toe. He said it was slowly pushing my toes apart. I gave them up cold since that day.

I have picky feet. *sigh* Nothing that is cute is comfortable, and nothing that is comfortable is cute! Or if they are both, they are also far too expensive. I'll shell out big bucks for work shoes. Not casual. Just don't make enough money to justify it. Report
I believe Flip flops and sandals have a place in life, however, most people abuse that and just wear them to be lazy!
They need to be banished from schools... Report
Not totally a flip-flop addict but sandals for sure. Have many pairs. Mostly Born and Merrells, which have much more support than a flat flip-flop. Love to be barefoot inside though. Report
I love them. I abuse the dress code policy at work because of them. I will never get rid of them! I also have every color and style there is. I love "dressy" leather or satin flip flops hahahaha - makes me think I can get away with wearing them to fancy occasions.

I try not to wear them if I'm doing a lot of walking or standing around because they do start to hurt after awhile. But they are my favorite for kicking around town.

Socks? What are those? Oh you mean those sweaty foot things I wear at the gym? Report
I LOVE wearing flip flops but after I injured myself this past summer, I am very cautious about wearing them now. In a downpour, I was walking down stairs that were slippery and went crashing down. I felt like I slipped on a banana peel! I fell hard and hurt my back which continues to give me pain today! Report
I do not currently wear flipflops. I wore then as a child, back when they were called 'thongs' and 'underwear' never came to mind. The plastic piece irritated the webbing between my toes. I had a pair of wedge flipflops but got rid of them, and the last time I wore regular flip-flops I stepped on a remnant of a handrail at someone's house, went through the shoe and quarter inch into the pad of my left foot, a few inches under my baby toe. I couldn't walk straight for a week. That was the LAST TIME flipflops EVER touched my feet, and that was maybe two years ago? Report
I too was a flip flop addict but I also realized that if I was out pounding the pavement that I needed to have proper walking shoes. I'd be curious to see what a study would find with women wearing flats..theres is almost no arch support and I had to stop wearing mine after walking in them on a hard surface (cobble stone). Report
I did wear them when I was younger but can't wear them now. I have diabetes and my toes on the end push tightly together while my big toe and the one next to it spread out. I can not wear anything between my toes because after awhile they hurt really bad. My daughter even wears them sometimes in the winter. She is in her 30's but she loves the things. Report
I hate flip flops, they are so uncomfortable to walk in. Report
Years ago, my daughter-in-law, a chiropractor, advised me not to wear any shoes without adequate support. I add supports to many shoes. Flip-flops are, to me, only good for the beach or pool. I prefer not to wear them at all. Report
Absolutely hate flip-flops

As a podiatrist I cannot recommend them at all. They weren't designed to be worn 24/7 for long walks.

Apart from that the toe-post irritates my feet.

I give them a very wide berth.

I grew up in Hawaii and California and rarely wore shoes. In Hawaii, we didn't even wear shoes to school. Flips flops were a major concession. I love them, have many pairs and still wear them often and I'm in my 50s and have high arches. True, they have no support and leave your feet open to the elements, but they're cool and easy. Luckily, I can ever wear ff to work! LOVE LOVE LOVE them! Report
I loved ff as a child. I started wearing them again a few times last summer. This summer I wore them but couldn't figure out why my feet hurt all the time. After I discovered how bad ff were I quit wearing them. It took a while for my feet to quit hurting. If I wear them now, it will be just to the garden which is just outside my kitchen door. Report
Shoes are an eternal well of despair for me.

I walk. A lot. I don't have a car, so I often take a 5-mile walk to the shopping mall and back to buy stuff. The problem? Sneakers are not the coolest footwear. Whenever I take them within a 1-mile radius of the city center, I feel really stupid and ugly. I look at other women's shoes and notice they're all wearing at least 3-inch heels. Also, I'd love to walk to school (about 2.5 miles one way), but there's no way I can turn up in class with sneakers.

I love all my heels, but I'm not going to walk 5 miles in any of them. (Well, maybe sometimes after a party if I miss the night bus.) I sometimes do it in flip-flops, but they're not that comfortable either.

So I wear pretty shoes, ride a bicycle and hate every moment of it. Report
My mom was a ff lover, therefore we always had a few pair for the summer. I love them and my family wears them too. With that being said my mom has major problems now with her feet. I wear them in the garden, camping, shopping, etc. However, I do wear proper foot wear when doing anything else. A hard habit to break. Report
Diabetics should also be aware of potential problems due to nerve damage in their feet. People wearing ff's are more likely to damage their feet and in diabetics this can lead to severe problems. This explains it better:
To me, they aren't comfortable so I don't wear them. Report
I am a flip flop addict and I have pairs for stores all over the area! I love the Old Navy flip flops b/c they are cheap and I don't care if they get ruined! I do draw the line at wearing them to work. I am a teacher and I don't wear them during the school year. Tutoring in the summer or when I teach summer school, I am guilty and wear them! Report
I've never been a fan of flip-flops. Maybe it's because my feet are usually cold and I prefer to keep ordinary shoes on for that reason. Or because my feet get grimy from outdoor elements. I reserve my flip-flops for car washing and public/community/dorm showers and little else. Report
My six year old niece was a flip flop addict and now, no matter what she wears, she only walks on her toes. She has an appointment with the Shriners Hospital to determine if she'll need surgery because the muscles in the back of her leg aren't as long as they should be. It's not her fault - but we didn't realize the damage that wearing mostly flip flops could do. Report
Wow, I have to disagree for myself... I love my Airwalk flipflops - I have several pairs, and I walk for miles and miles in them! They conform to my feet after a week or so new, and I feel great in them. No blisters, no heat rash, no heel pain... I'm not giving mine up for anything! Report
my fav flip flops are by earth footwear. the style is called exer-fit. they are flip flops WITH arch support!!! and, they help me burn extra calories while I walk. I can definitely see a difference in my legs!!! Report
I am a self-proclaimed flip-flop snob. I love & wear only Reef brand flip-flops. They are nothing like Old Navy, Addidas, or even New Balance. I, however, do not wear them when walking for exercise, I wear the proper footwear. Living on the Florida Gulf Coast flip-flops are almost a requirement for comfort (LOL). I believe Reef's have good support. Report
Can't stand 'em!

Could not believe, at my college graduation, that classmates were wearing shorts and flip-flops with their gowns! Have a little pride, people! Report
Common sense should tell people you can wear flip-flops at the beach or in the shower, but well built shoes are needed for walking any distance.
I do wear Birkenstocks, but in the house and not for distance walking. Podiatrists probably like flip-flops because they bring them lots of patients. Report
I am a total flip flop addict. My favorite brand is Havaianas. I do, however, limit the amount of time I spend in them due to an arthritic bunion condition I've recently developed. For walking I wear walking or athletic shoes. But for just hanging out or going to the beach, I will never give up my flip flops. Report
Many people enjoy the laid-back and casual attitude of flip flops, but I can't get much done in them. If I don't put on socks and athletic shoes as soon as possible after waking or showering, I stay lazy. My back starts hurting and I tire more quickly without the support. I especially need the support for standing in the kitchen to cook and clean so I'm less likely to eat convenience foods or fast foods.
I have a relative in the Houston, Texas area who LIVES in flip flops. She is a busy mom raising an 8 year-old and a 4 year-old. Their family wears slippers/houseshoes inside the house and spend a lot of time outside in the yard. Throughout the day, she's schlepping laundry to and from the backyard clothesline, keeping an eye on kids playing outside, meeting the school bus, watering the garden, maintaining the pool.
I don't understand how she's not in pain at the end of the day, but putting on lace-up shoes and socks most days is just impractical for her. Report
I am probably the complete opposite of being a flip-flop addict. I didn't grow up wearing them much outside of swimming and public shower activities. When I first started wearing them then (I was around 12), I didn't like the feeling of something b/w my toes, which was something I had to get use when I had to wear them. I also didn't like walking around much with them trying to keep from accidentally kicking them off or being careful not to slip in wet places. I didn't grow seeing that many people wear them until I was in college (family doesn't wear them, I went to private schools and I was a homebody). Plus, during my childhood I found out that I need arch support for my feet, so even if flip flops came up in my mind, I couldn't wear them on a daily basis.

Today, I only have one pair of flip-flop, a bit thick and cushiony, that I use mainly for public shower shoes and if I go swimming again, I'll use it for that. So, I don't think I will need to get rid of my one sole pair of flip-flops since I rarely wear them. I grew and still predominately wear closed toe shoes, so I really need to venture out more with shoes.
I saw this exact study reported on TV though, and they said b/c of the way your feet are angled to prevent the shoe from slipping, walking in them through the course of time will result in foot, leg and ankle injuries. Anything flat and/or without support will hurt my feet, so I usually avoid or limit wearing those types of shoes. Report
Hmmm... should I mention that Saturday Old Navy is having their $1 flip flop sale??? Report
I LOVE flipflops. I hate wearing socks and shoes. My big toe always moves up too high when I walk and I always wear holes in my socks and shoes, so flipflops give me a break. As far as injuries, I have tripped and scrapped those big toes! They get no rest, lol. Report
I must have at least 40 pairs of flip flops, but I wear them maybe once a week because of a past injury. A couple years ago, I visited Universal Studios in Orlando, Fl and suffered from tendonitis due to my flip flops. Report
I confess. I love them. But when I go on long walks, I do not wear them. I've also noticed that when I switch right into my flops from my heels I wore to work all day, I get fits of arch cramping much faster than if I wear something with at least some arch support. I will never truly give up flip flops though. They are cool, cute, and convenient. They have the three c's. LOL Report
I live in the middle east and as the heat slowly rises to the high 40's - low 50's there really is no choice but to wear flip flops. I switched to FIT FLOPS last year and havent looked back they are comfortable, hard wearing and havent rubbed me once since I got them. Not sure they do anything for toning but the pain I used to get in my shins and calves from flat flip flops has disappeared. Mentally I tell myself they are giving me a mini work out while I walk around and thats never a bad thing. Report
I've become an addict, but I tend to only wear the cushioned, thick ones that Addidas makes. I avoid the cheapy ones from Walmart & Old Navy because they just hurt the inside of my toes. Report
I've been addicted to flip-flops for 10 years now. Not even cold weather will stop me from slipping on a matching pair. I usually walk/run in tennis shoes, but I think I've found the perfect product.....THE FIT FLOP (it's supposed to be a fitness sandal that shapes your legs and tush while you walk)! anyone tried them out? I'd love to know how they work, feel, if they're the awnser to my prayers? Report
I'm a total flip-flop addict. In fact, there was an OLD NAVY commercial on earlier tonight that said that their flip-flops will be on sale for $1/pair this Saturday. I'm so there!!!! Oh, I only wear them when a little walking is on the agenda....a lot of walking and it's the sneakers for me! Report
In the Deep South, flip flops (we grew up calling them 'slaps') are de rigeur. I, too, have plantar fasciitis and was out of my slaps for some time, but a night splint has me back in them. The dollar stores are my fave haunt, and while I like the look of the velvet-edged wovens and the leathers, the little plastic/rubber ones in all those colors can be decorated and dressed up or down. I'm looking for some platforms but they're rare this season. As for crocs, I hate 'em. I borrowed a pair from a nurse, and I kept catching my toes when I walked. Plus, they have NO arch supports unless you purchase them separately. You couldn't pay me to own a pair after that little trial. I've seen the Fit Flops and am coveting a pair of those, as they are pricey. Report
I love flip flops...I could live in them. I do have an injury and faschiitis but still wear them and always will. Have to have a pair in every color. Report
I have to confess that I am a flip flop addict as well!! I know that this coming saturday is old navy's flip flop sale they are all goin to be a $1 sooo... all you flip flop addicts out there go get some old navy flip flops on saturday may 23rd! Report
I myself am not an addict, but my husband loves flip flops and so does our daughter. My daughter can run a pair of flip flops in the hole quick. Report
I love flip flops! It drives me nuts that I can't wear them to work.

Truthfully, I'd go barefoot everywhere if I could. 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.