Flip flops have become the unofficial shoe of quarantine. They're comfortable, easy to slip on and off, and they're just as functional inside of the house as they are for running errands, which could explain why searches for the shoe are up 53 percent since June. But while we all may love flip flops for our quarantine needs, podiatrists say "not so fast."
"Flip flops really are that bad," says Miguel Cunha, DPM, board-certified podiatric surgeon and founder of Gotham Footcare. "I typically encourage my patients to avoid wearing flip flops for prolonged periods of time because this particular shoe allows our foot to collapse, affecting our gait and posture, which can lead to a tremendous amount of stress not only to the foot but to the rest of the body."
Wearing flip flops messes with the distribution of weight and pressure across the foot, which creates problems all around. "This imbalance may increase the progression of underlying foot deformities, like bunions and hammertoes, and lead to painful conditions associated with excessive pronation such as arch and heel pain, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, posterior tibial tendonitis, and Achilles tendonitis," says Dr. Cunha. In addition to leaving your foot in pain, the imbalance can move upward in your body and screw with the balance of your knees, hips, and back.
And, since most flip flops offer no support for your foot, they can cause stress up the back of your heel (aka your Achilles tendon), and all that gripping with your toes can cause pain later on when you try to shove them into your sneakers or closed-toe slides. If you absolutely have to wear flip flops—and trust me, I'm right there with you—you should try to limit it to short periods of time. "They should also have at least some arch support, a cushioned sole, and supportive straps," says Dr. Cunha. "The best material for flip flops would be a sturdy rubber sole to avoid falls, and an antimicrobial foot bed can help you avoid getting fungus and warts."
Below are the only two flip flops out there that he says fit the bill. Read on for the best flip flops with arch support that won't mess with your feet—or the rest of your body—for the rest of quarantine and beyond.
The best flip flops with arch support
These flippers have earned themselves a seal of acceptance by the American Podiatric Medical Association, so you know they're the real deal as far as support goes. "These sandals are lightweight and have a flexible EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) footbed which absorbs shock, reducing stress on feet, ankles, and knees," says Dr. Cunha. Plus, they've got a little bit of lift, which means they can technically count as high-heels for your more formal flip flop-wearing scenarios.
Shop now: Vionic Bella II Sandals, $72
Birkenstocks are back in a major way, and they will work wonders for your feet in flip-flop form. "These are modeled on the cork sandal and their footbed will offer the same comfort and arch support you would expect from Birkenstock," says Dr. Cunha. "These flip flops are also ultra-lightweight, highly flexible, shock-absorbent, waterproof, and skin-friendly." Plus, they come in all kinds of fun colors—from metallic silver to basic black to sunshine-y yellow—which means you can pick a pair to go with every outfit.
Shop now: Birkenstock Giza Essential Eva, $45
Feet bothering you from the flip flops you've been wearing around the house the last few months? These foot-focused stretches can help:
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