Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Surprising Benefits of Flip-Flops

As flip-flops have gained popularity and moved from beach shoes to standard summer footwear, doctors have warned about the dangers they pose for feet, ankles, and knees (CBS, 2008). Surprisingly, a study by Najia Shakoor, MD, associate professor of internal medicine at Rush Medical College and attending physician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, in Arthritis Care & Research found that arthritis suffers may benefit from wearing flip-flops and other flat flexible shoes (Doheny, 2010).

Previously, flip-flops were considered to have ill effects on the feet and the lower body. One reason is because flip-flops have thin soles, which lack arch support. The thin sole is problematic because it cannot absorb shock from everyday walking (CBS, 2008). Furthermore, according to Justin Shroyer, a doctoral student who researched flip-flops, “We found that when people walk in flip-flops, they alter their gait, which can result in problems and pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back” (Parker-Pope, 2008).

Despite such information, women persist in wearing flip-flops. For example, according to Reuters, “more than 31% of women said flip-flops were the single ‘must have’ item for work this summer” (2006). Women persist in wearing flip-flops, even though they may be inappropriate for certain occasions, such as their job (Goldsmith, 2006). This popularity of flip-flops, combined with the information on the problems they cause, seems to suggest that humans will wear shoes like flip-flops despite the dangers they pose.

Moreover, it seems wearers of flip-flops realize that most things are not purely good or evil. As the most recent research suggests, flip-flops may have benefits for some people. Moreover, the shoes doctors thought were best for people with arthritis, stability shoes and clogs, put the most pressure on knees (Doheny, 2010).

Humans seem to be willing to wear shoes despite posing health risks, such as foot pain. This may suggest that people may innately know which shoes are best for them. Most likely, however, it suggests that humans wear the shoes that they like best. As future research may disprove what science now reports, such as the change in the risks flip-flops pose, this may be the best course of action. From the current body of knowledge, flip-flops pose both benefits and risk, showing that science is often inconclusive and difficult for humans to navigate.

CBS. (2008). The dangers of flip-flops ... In footwear! Retrieved March 31, 2010 from
Doheny, K. (2010). Flip-flops, flat shoes relieve arthritic knees. WebMD. Retrieved March 31, 2010 from
Goldsmith, B. (2006). Are flip-flops damaging your career? Reuters. Retrieved March 31, 2010 from
Parker-Pope, T. (2008). Summer flip-flops may lead to foot pain. New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2010 from

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