You may have heard that wearing flip-flops is bad for you, but since it’s summer time you’re probably still wearing them anyway.

“Most podiatrists dislike flip-flops because they can be harmful to bones and muscles, make tripping or hurting your feet while walking more likely, and put you at higher risk for infectious diseases,” said Hylke Snieder, M.D., with the Samaritan Family Medicine Resident Clinic.

Snieder says that supportive footwear helps to align your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back. Appropriate shoes can protect your feet from glass or metal on the ground, from stubbing your toe and from direct impact if you drop something on your foot. And Snieder says close proximity to the ground also makes it more likely that you’ll pick up diseases such as athlete’s foot or staphylococcus. With flip-flops, your feet are much more vulnerable and for some people, like those with diabetes, that can pose a health problem.

But, Snieder added, “You don’t have to completely avoid flip-flops. As with any shoe, you just want to make sure you get a good quality item that fits well and supports your feet, and that what you’re wearing on your feet is appropriate for your activity.”

Snieder offers these tips for finding the right flip-flops:

• Pick a flip-flop that doesn’t bend or twist, except slightly at the ball of the foot. If it folds in half, put it back. A thicker sole protects your feet from debris on the ground and provides support. This may mean that you have to pay a little more for flip-flops.

• Find one made of soft leather, which minimizes the chance of irritation or blisters.

• Don’t wear flip-flops nonstop all summer. Flip-flops are great for the beach, the pool, or quick errands. They are not meant for hiking, playing sports, long days on your feet, yard work or driving. A water shoe or sandal with straps across the heel and top of the foot are better choices than flip-flops if you prefer the feel of the wind on your toes and you don’t need the protection of a running shoe or work boot.

Hylke Snieder, M.D., is a resident at Samaritan Family Medicine Resident Clinic as a part of Samaritan’s Graduate Medical Education Program. He provides primary care to patients of all ages and can be reached at 541-768-5142.

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