Q: Do you think of thin soled flip-flops as good or bad for just walking around?
A: Great question! One could look at it in two ways: 1. Sure flip-flops are ok…by being close to barefoot, you are strengthening your feet as you walk around. You are also allowing your foot to do what it was designed to do – ambulate with hinderance. 2. Heck no! Terrible for your feet! They offer no support.
Flip-flops will be worn regardless of their utilitarian or lack-thereof purpose, simply because they are easy to slip on and they make a cool sound when you walk. So, unless you are sashaying in stilettos all day long or have a current or long-standing foot injury…go ahead, wear those flip-flops and strengthen your feet! But listen to your body and let your body adapt (don’t go from your “work” shoes all week long to wearing flip-flops for hours on the weekend. Q-Me if you want to learn how to adapt to a more minimalistic approach to footwear!) If you start to develop any pain, discomfort, or injury in a lower extremity or your back…will need an evaluation by a professional biomechanist or sport medicine physician to determine the root cause.
Often times, we do not benefit from minimalistic footwear because we have become accustomed to wearing thick soled shoes that cradle our foot. Imagine having thick gloves put on your hands at the time you began to crawl and kept them on your hands forever more…you’d have some serious sensory issues. Your tactile abilities decrease. In addition, thick-soled and overly supportive shoes can prevent the feet from becoming stronger. Lack of strength leads to instability as well as a lack in flexibility. You can imagine…go from full support to no support…your feet don’t know what to do! Plantar fascia pain, blisters, back pain, and Achilles tendon pain may manifest.
So, to get back to the original question…are they bad for walking around? If you have pain while walking around in them – YES! If you are walking around in them a few hours each week with no pain…good! You are strengthening your feet! But if you go from wearing stilettos or steel-toed boots everyday then switch to flip-flops for your weekend footwear…re-evaluate. Wear them in short stints and tune into to your body. Commit to improving hip and core strength and your feet and body will thank you!