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?

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i gotta admit, they're fugly as hell but i'm a HUGE birkenstock fan. so comfy!!! Report
I wish I could wear flip flops, have tried them serveral times and just can't handle the thong peice. Report
things change so fast. I can remember it used to be if someone had a fever they were supposed to cover up and now you are supposed to skim down your clothes to cool off. It is the same thing with shoes and other things. Report
I would go nuts without my flip flops! Report
My concern is that only 31 people were in the study. That is really too few to get any reliable data. Report
The results of this study just bear out what I've learned for myself. I have two bad knees and a bad back and I'm most comfortable either walking barefoot or in my flops. Today I was pushing my grandson in his pushbuggy while wearing my flops because it was finally warm enough outside to do so and I had the best 1/2 hr. walk I've had in a long time - - for me proof is in the pudding! BTW, I have flat feet which might the reason why I'm more comfortable either barefoot or in my flops! Report
Please be careful about tripping , you couls really cause so many kinds of injuries Report
Perhaps it is better to wear different syles to vary the use of different muscles, etc. Worth considering! Report
I knew there was a reason why I liked my flip-flops so much! Report

This was a very interesting blog. Report
Maybe because I have a high arch flip flops are not conmfortable for me to wear,. I do where them at the beach and that's about it. Report
Maybe becaue I have a high arch flip flops are not conmfortable for me to wear,. I do where them at the beach and that's about it. Report
My toes will be happy to hear about this! They love the open air. Good time to get a pedi. Report
Personally, I love flip flops! when the snow melted, I was the first person wearing them! :) I Hate wearing tennis shoes or heels. I'd rather let my 'piggies' breath! :) Report
I can't do flip flops because of the toe thingy - got to have regular sandals. I have been reading about the barefoot shoe - probably same concept... I am a wide tennis shoe person or sandal - regular shoes, heals or flats drive me crazy... Report
Doesn't change my opinion; I have had plantar fasciitis for nearly 20 years and must wear shoes with good support and cushioning, so flip-flops just don't work for me. I hate the thing between the toes too, drives me crazy!
But, to each his/her own, and if you like 'em, go ahead and wear them! Report
I prefer not to wear ANY shoes that are really flat, so I reserve flip-flops and super-flats for only occasional wear. Now that I've lost a bunch of weight, it is more comfortable than it used to be. Report
I am a flip flop girl, personally I think it's what has kept my calves in shape for years. Finally glad to have something to retort with to my naysayer family members. Report
I usually avoid flipflops because my feet hurt by the end of the day. I stick with my crew sox and sport shoes all day every day. But I like flip flops and if they are healthier, which I tend to believe regarding foot flexibility and knee joint problems, I wonder if wearing a foot brace with the flip flops would help with that. Of course that would look awful, but comfy, healthy feet being the goal... Report
I adore my flip flops. To be honest, I consider them the most comfortable footwear around. Nothing feels better on my tired feet than a nice pair of flip flop. However, one shouldn't be cheap about them either! I think the ones that DO deserve the bad wrap are the cheapos you get at Walmart, like the ones that were causing those horrific skin conditions a while back... Report
No it does not change my opinion on different footwear.
I am staying with my sandles with a strap across the back
of them to help hold my foot in them. i know they will slip off
while i am driving and i don't like that. Report
I LOVE my flip flops. I have quite a few pair. I wear them from April til October or November, depending on this Pennsylvania weather. I HATE socks and shoes. Oh, it is April, time to get all my flip flops and sandals out of storage. YIPPEE!!!! Report
I love flip flops - i wear them year round. I find the Crocs prepair - awesome with their thick sole and wet dry mode perfect for everyday. I would like to try the ortho heal ones as well. I cannot do birkenstocks. Bandals also have a beach sandal that you can change the strap around and that looks very good. Will have to check that out (available at foot solutions) Report
I love my flip-flops! I have tried using them to walk on my treadmill and I found out that I walk FASTER and don't get as tired out compared to when using my sneakers on my treadmill. Report
"Dressy" flip flops, lol! Just started wearing them again after 30 years, since I also didn't like the thing between my toes, but seems like they are making them more comfortable now. Report
I love my Birkenstocks! But I wear my flip flops to the gym for swimming or to Yoga class where we don't need shoes. Report
I do love my flip flops but hate the way my feet get dirty & gross in them. I still wear them though! I have the cheesy cheap rubber ones and some nicer ones for dressy occasions. There are some really comfortable supportive sporty flip flops out there too. Report
This is a surprise to me... I've never enjoyed wearing flip-flops, even as a child, and my high arches don't like them anyway.

It may be my imagination, but I live in a town with a lot of tourists, and surely have seen a lot of nasty dirty feet wearing flip-flops... not very appetizing. Report
I love my flip flops! I hate shoes and socks. Have the cheap rubber kind for class and home and dressy ones for my 2 of my jobs. Can't wear them in clinic. I like them because I have a bunion and with the flip flops nothing is touching it. Need to have the bunion surgically fixed but no time in my on the run life right now..... Report
I hate the thong between my toes!
A lot of research you've been posting here on the Daily Spark has me rethinking just what is needed in my footwear and why. Report
I am so excited that warm weather is here and I can return to my beloved flip-flops! Report
I love flip flops! Report
I love my flipflops- I wear then year round- yes even in the winter:) I will never give up my flipflops;) Report
It would have suprised me a few months ago, but with the recent data that running barefoot might be better for you, it doesn't anymore. That said, given the choice I rather be barefoot. Report
This article really surprised me. Because of my feet I can not wear flip flops. Report
This is great news, although I realize I have to test the findings on myself. I do have knee problems and at home mostly wear those backless slippers know as scuffs. I don't wear flit flops or any open sandals walking city streets--too easy to get step on. But I have been wearing my all-purpose athletic shoes (lots of support) to walk on our beach path. I love walking barefoot along the smooth sand when the tide is out but will need flip flops when the tide is in and I have to take the actual path along the beach, which is sand/dirt but with some small gravel mixed in. Can't wait to try it. As a child I loved being barefoot and still do. Report
Just try and get my out of my Birkenstocks, I dare you! Report
Since I live in Florida I have Flip flops all over the house. I have dressy flip flops, casual flip flops, running out in the yard flip flops, beach flip flops and just plain stinky flip flops. Next to barefeet, they are the way to go! Report
Wow. Interesting. I have knee problems and my knees hurt a lot more in 'structured' shoes (even my expensive ShapeUps) but I wear them for work and working out, flip flops at home. And interesting that they don't hurt as much when I wear them. Can't wear them to work out or walk far though because they are dangerous. Plus need more arch support so I'll find some that have a better arch. I LOVE Birkenstocks, but need something more waterproof plus I'm not an 'earth mother' type girl so they don't really fit my style. They have some crazy-colored plastic ones but don't sell them much here in WI; got mine in Florida. Need to look for a pair. Report
I HATE wearing shoes so I LOVE flip flops!!! Report
I alternate between a Clarks slip-on sandle indoors and New Balance Running shoes. They are the only shoes I found I can wear in comfort. Both have good cushioning and an arch. I get plantar fasciitis if I walk on hard pavement with a thin soled shoe. I also have osteoarthritis in both knees but I do not blame it on shoes. I blame it on being overweight, being overstressed so my immune system was compromised, and by sitting at a desk job for many years with not enough exercise. Report
I too, don't like anything between my toes however, I enjoy the airyness of having my feet feel the natural air and used to, during the summertime, go barefeet! It helps to as our feet are so confined in shoes, sneakers and socks so this is such a relief! Those were the days. I wear hose whenever I wear shoes except for sandals and I enjoy a nice high heel shoe! This info is good to know as education is the key, thanx! Report
I'm not surprised by what they found. I'm almost always barefoot. I hate wearing shoes. I only wear them when I have to. When I do have to wear shoes, I'm wearing some sort of sandals or flip-flops. Report
I have quite a few pairs. I usually only wear them on weekends In the warm months since I can't wear them to work. Report
I find that wearing different shoes works best for me. I have Dansko clogs, all sorts of athletic shoes, Chaco sadals, flip flops and many, many more. Report
I hate that thing between my toes also. I do wear Dr. Sholls or earth sandal, or ones from Lands End Report
I couldn't help but think of a pair my sister took off the Shoe Tree on Hwy 20 between Juntura and Vale... approx. mile post 207 if I remember correctly. She wore them to her wedding and honeymoon in Jamaica and they were the most comfortable pair she ever worn! As for me.... I wore my fiance's flip flops. They had prickly things that tickled my feet and they were so relaxing for my feet when I was pregnant. Report
I had not worn flip flops since I was a girl (40 yrs ago). I decided to wera them last summer and they were great, EXCEPT, I suddenly got an achillies problem and could not figue out how it happened until I saw an article in Prevention Magazine explaining that flip flops can damage the tendons on the achillies. So I don't wear them any more. Report
I just ordered a pair of flip flops with 16mm of arch support. I haven't gotten them but am hoping they will give me the arch support I need and still allow me to run around all summer in my beloved flip flops! Report
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