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Experts give flip-flops thumbs up for the poolside, thumbs down for foot pain

Flip-Flops Fun but Beware of Foot Pain

No Foot Support Leads to Foot Pain continued...

Why? "They let your foot be as flat as they can be," Christina says. "For some people, that's OK, depending on the structure of their foot. But if you have a foot that tends to over-flatten, then you're not getting any support.

"If [vacationers] are at the beach or Disney World and they're walking in flip-flops for days on end with no support, it's very common to see arch and heel pain," he says.

Don't overdo the flip-flops at home, either, Christina says. "Everything in moderation. As long as you're not doing a lot of walking, it's probably OK." For example, "To have flip-flops on for short periods of time to do errands, that's usually not going to be a problem."

If you have foot pain and need an alternative to flip-flops and their flimsy support, the APMA's web site recommends sandals from companies, such as Wolky, Chaco, Dansko and Rockport.

Beware of Foot Injury

Remember Jimmy Buffett's tune, Margaritaville?

"I blew out my flip-flop

Stepped on a pop top

Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home"

Because flip-flops offer little protection, you're at greater risk for stubbed toes, glass cuts, puncture wounds, or having a heavy object smash your foot, experts say.

"I am well aware of the potential downsides of these shoes," says Bret A. Nicks, MD, a Wake Forest University emergency physician. "It is fairly frequently that we see someone come in with either a broken toe or torn nail bed from direct blunt trauma to the exposed toes."

For people with diabetes, any foot injury can become serious, even leading to amputation. Flip-flops and sandals aren't a good option, Christina says. "They really need the protective function of something that covers their toes. I'd much rather see them in Crocs or something that has a covering on top." Crocs are lightweight, waterproof, clog-like shoes.

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