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The right kind of flip-flops to wear this summer

Shine from Yahoo!—June 3, 2010

At last, the breezy days of summer are upon us. For many of us, flip-flops become the go-to footwear to accompany such an ensemble, but as we’ve often been warned, these flimsy slip-ons do not always provide ideal foot support.

Dr. Rock Positano, director of the Non-surgical Foot and Ankle Service at Hospital for Special Surgery, confirms that flip-flops fall short of providing necessary support. "With no real solid support underneath the foot, it loses its shock-absorbing capabilities. The lower leg, shin, knee, hip, and back are overworking."

Dr. Positano also says certain pathological foot types (like high and flat arches) predispose people to foot and ankle issues, and that soft flip-flops with no support accentuate these mechanical deficiencies. Some short-term issues related to flip-flop use would be heel and arch pain, tendinitis, shin splints, sprains, splinters, cuts, and toe injuries. Long-term problems might be stress fractures, bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas.

Even with a comfortable flip-flop, you should limit your use to no more than a few hours of wear. "If you’re hanging around the pool or going to the beach it’s fine. They’re not going to kill you," says Dr. Positano. "Where people get into trouble is when they use them all day, walking around, and standing for a long period of time." The worst scenario, perhaps, is what Dr. Positano refers to as the "Disney World fracture." "You have a person who’s already walking more than they’re accustomed too. Pair that with foot gear with no support, and you have the quickest way to arrive at the vacation from hell. Trips are ruined because people develop stress fractures, knee problems, and hip and back problems."

When in doubt, Dr. Positano offers up some simple but important advice: "The bottom line is wearing flip-flops is no different than wearing three-inch high heels. Be sensible. Know how to wear something and when to wear it."

This article originally appeared at yahoo.com.


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