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Flip-flops may be your go-to footwear this summer, but experts warn that they could cause a world of pain if you wear them for long periods of time, while walking on concrete, or when playing sports. Flip-flops don’t just offer limited arch support and shock absorption for our feet, they also change they way we walk. Because we tend to grip the flimsy shoe bed with our toes to keep them in place, we can cause undue strain to calf muscles or pinch a nerve in our hips and back, according to orthopedic doctors at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

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Other dangers associated with flip-flops include broken toes and toenails, cuts and bruises, and general germiness, not to mention semi-permanent toe jam. Sun damage is another cause for concern. Be sure to apply sunscreen to any exposed bits to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Not ready to flip those flops just yet? Some do’s and don’t from the American Podiatric Medical Association:

  • Do ensure that your foot doesn’t hang off of the edge of the flip-flop.
  • Do gently bend the flip-flop from end to end, ensuring it bends at the ball of the foot. Shoes of any kind should never fold in half.
  • Do wear a sturdy pair of flip-flops when walking around a public pool, at the beach, in hotel rooms, and in locker room areas. Walking barefoot can expose foot soles to plantar warts and athlete’s foot.
  • Don’t re-wear flip-flops year after year. Inspect older pairs for wear. If they show signs of severe wear, discard them.
  • Don’t ignore irritation between toes, where the toe thong fits. This can lead to blisters and possible infections.
  • Don’t wear flip-flops while walking long distances. Even the sturdiest flip-flops offer little in terms of shock absorption and arch support.
  • Don’t play sports in flip-flops. This practice can lead to twisting of the foot or ankle, as well as sprains and breaks.

+ HealthDay

Originally published on July 7, 2012.