When You Only Wear Flip Flops, This Is What Happens To Your Body

Oh, sweet summertime. You may enjoy getting to only wear flip flops and listening to the sounds of the radio and the sizzle of the grill while you're rocking poolside. However, one of these activities may be seriously sabotaging your health, and you may be surprised to know that we're not talking about the greasy burgers on the grill.

Our favorite summer sandals are slowly messing up our feet in more ways than one. This flat footwear provides only a small amount of support and forces our feet — and the rest of our bodies — to begin walking in ways that they're simply not used to. Sitting poolside in flip flops is one way to get wet, but the dangers of wearing this go-to shoe will definitely dampen your spirits. Flip flops may frankly just be a flop, as, in some respects, they're one clothing item that's bad for your health.

This is what happens to your body when you only wear flip flops.

The way you walk changes when you only wear flip flops

Showing off a new pair of shoes is sure to add a little pep to your step, but, if you only wear flip flops, it can actually change your walk completely.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association in 2010, wearers of this popular summer sandal take shorter steps when walking, which can seriously throw off your stride. Researchers found that wearing flip flops also increases the angle of your ankles when taking each step. This could presumably make your muscles move in ways they're not used to that can cause unnecessary pain later on (via Global News).

Though the fun sound of the "flip flop" noise that these shoes bring with each step always brings a smile to our faces, thinking summer is just around the corner, walking regularly in them can seriously mess up your stride. "It's going to be very halted, very pressured steps," podiatrist Dr. Eunice Ramsey-Parker told The Healthy. It's best to side-step — pun intended — these summer sandals completely when it comes to managing long-term pain that can even extend over your entire body.

You may have more blisters when you only wear flip flops

Let's admit it: We all have a pair of shoes that's so painful to wear, but they're just too cute not to. Unfortunately, these uncomfortable shoes can bare us blisters — and this certainly happen when you only wear flip flops. And footwear that rubs in the wrong places is enough to ruin just about anybody's day.

Blisters form from the friction that's created between your top two layers of skin. Many times, this occurs between toes, as noted by Good Housekeeping. These bothersome blisters form from a fluid build-up. As annoying as they may be, blisters are only intended to help protect your toes. "Your body is simply producing fluid to protect against continued trauma," podiatrist Sheldon Laps explained to The Washington Post.

While they may seem like a minor inconvenience, blisters can be bad. If not properly cared for, they can leave a serious snag on your summer plans. "The danger is that a blister bursts, starts to bleed and that you get an infection that goes all the way up your leg," he said. Yikes.

When you only wear flip flops, your feet are open to fungi

We've been told to wear flip flops when hitting the dorm room shower or even just sunbathing by the public pool. It's better than going barefoot with bacteria lurking around, but only wearing these summer sandals could be causing your feet to be even more open to fungi. Yuck!

It all starts with a simple blister or nick from your razor that can expose your flip flopped feet to bacteria (via Ortho Bethesda). You may think if the bottom of my feet are covered, then I'm covered, right? However, the materials these sought-after shoes are made of don't help.  

New York Daily News reported that researchers found walking around in $3.50 flip flops for four days held onto around 18,100 types of bacteria. While, yes, this could happen on the bottom of any shoe, the materials that most flip flops are made of — rubber or plastic — are known to be breeding grounds for even more fungi. This can include pseudomonas, a bacteria that is specifically around water (via Cincinnati Foot & Ankle Care). So you may want to reconsider those $1 flip flops at Old Navy.

You could get plantar fasciitis if you only wear flip flops

You don't have to be a scientist to know that if you only wear flip flops, you're not getting a lot of support.

When your feet are flat in flip flops, gravity puts pressure on your arches each time you flip and flop. Small tears can start to form as the ligaments in your feet are stretched flat too. This tension eventually leads to swelling and inflammation that can then cause what's described as a consistent shooting or stabbing pain in your heels, known as plantar fasciitis (via Business Insider). "It becomes a chronic and repetitive condition," podiatric doctor Alan K. Mauser, who works at Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Ky., explained to Everyday Health. "One never really rests their foot enough to heal and get better."

With the popularity of this summer shoe, it's no wonder that one in ten people will eventually experience plantar fasciitis.

Wearing only flip flops could potentially ruin your posture

While your feet are being flattened when you only wear flip flops, the rest of your body can be experiencing some serious consequences as well. The way you walk in these summer shoes can actually alter your entire anatomy. "Walking with flip flops for prolonged periods of time allows our foot to collapse," podiatrist Dr. Miguel Cunha explained to Metro, "affecting our gait and posture, which can lead to a tremendous amount of stress not only to the foot, but to the rest of the body."

With the foot pain that can come with flaunting flip flops regularly, your body is under pressure to change its posture too. Because the pain can spread far beyond your feet, other parts of your body like your legs, hips, and even back are forced to adapt to move with each new flip and flop of your stride. The fashionable footwear can completely alter your body's alignment (via Ortho Bethesda).

When showing off some new flip flops, don't wear them to walk around. Simply laying out on the beach is probably best, and we won't complain about that. Just don't the SPF — you don't want to know what really happens to your skin when you forget the sunscreen.

You could suffer from back pain if you only wear flip flops

Though flip flops are sure to be seen in just about anybody's closet, the body pain that can come from sporting this summertime staple may not even be worth it in the long run — though, please, don't run in flip flops.

While your feet are forced to move in new ways wearing this flat footwear, the rest of your body is also forced to keep up. "Because they're such a thin material, unlike a running shoe that can absorb the force you place on your foot, the flip flop can't absorb the impact and the force has to settle in the foot, knee, ankle, hip or back," chiropractor Dr. Katherine Tibor explained to Global News. It's essentially a domino effect when it comes to body pain.

So if you find yourself bearing through back pain, it could be best to assess what you're wearing on your feet. It seems like there's a lot to lose when you only wear flip flops.

When you only wear flip flops, you could develop hammer toes

If you think cramming your toes in tennis shoes is uncomfortable, flip flops can actually present an even worse option. With every flip and every flop that your feet take with each step, your toes are frantically trying to grip your footwear.

While your feet are moving in new ways when you only wear flip flops, your toes are taking on more responsibility that creates a muscle imbalance in your movement. The tendons in your toes will rebuild themselves accordingly and can even take on a new appearance (via the Cleveland Clinic). "The toes actually bend up and stay in a fixed position that looks like a little hammer," Dr. Eunice Ramsey-Parker, an associate professor of podiatric medicine in New York, told The Healthy. This constant contortion can create a permanent deformity, appropriately known as hammertoe, that may require surgery to repair.

It's probably not the look you're going for if you love showing off your feet in flip flops.

Your arches aren't supported if you wear flip flops often

Unfortunately, it's become a pretty obvious observation that we aren't providing any support to our arches when we only wear flip flops. "When we use flip-flops as everyday footwear, the result is overworked tendons and an overstressed arch," Dr. Jay Moore, an orthopedic surgeon from The Center Orthopedic and Neurological Care and Research, explained. This can lead to an array of painful problems that can affect the rest of your body.  

Just like many of our summertime favorites — like exposure to the sun and even ice cream — it's important to limit this fashionable footwear when it comes to baring your toes at the beach. "My advice is to do things in moderation, including wearing flip-flops," orthopedic surgeon Cameron Barr, MD from Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines recommended. Luckily, though they're a bit more expensive, there are functional flip flops out there that can offer support for your arches (via Today).

If you only wear flip flops, it could give you bunions

Having fun in the sun can be downright frightening for your feet if you only wear flip flops. With the added pressure on your big toes, bunions are more likely to form with each step that you take (via Healthline).

Bunions are red swollen bumps on the inside of your feet that are essentially caused from dislocating the joints to your big toes. Though doctors suspect it may have a bit to do with genetics, flip flops certainly aren't helping. With the constant motion of walking on a flat shoe, your body weight is forced to shift to different parts of your feet, setting up your big toes for bunions, and it doesn't just stop there. When you go to put on other fabulous footwear, they can rub against the bumps, causing discomfort to the rest of your feet.

When it comes to flip flops, "look for a type that has a thicker sole, maybe a little bit thicker strap, and definitely has, like, an arch support," podiatric surgeon Dr. Jacqueline Sutera recommended via Business Insider.

Your joints just may get worse if you only wear flip flops

If you thought just your heels were in for some hurting in flip flops, think again. The balls of your feet can actually suffer just as severely.

While moving your toes around to try and grip each flip, the balls of your feet are forced down, causing agony that affects you further and further across your feet. The joints surrounding the front of your feet can become inflamed from all the pressure, leading to a condition called metatarsalgia. "You're using muscles out of turn and with no foot support, so you get pain across the ball of your foot and its joints — the metatarsal joints," Paul Fenelon, the CEO of a foot orthotic laboratory in the U.K., explained to Staffordshire Living.

It's best to find flip flops that help support your soles. The broken-in shoes that have become your go-tos may not be your best bet since they've lost their shape. "If you're going to wear flip-flops in the summer, buy new ones every year," he said, which is advice that will make women everywhere very happy.

If you only wear flip flops, it could trigger tendonitis

Fatigued feet often occur if you only wear flip flops on a daily basis. When the tendons in your feet become inflamed from the wear and tear that this footwear causes, serious symptoms can occur. "When you're wearing nothing but sandals or flip-flops for too long, especially if you're active, you can cause tendonitis, or irritation of these tendons," Dr. Christine Wiarda, DPM from Avera Medical Group Podiatry Yankton explained to Avera.org. The strain on your tendons can turn into tendonitis, which is a persistent problem that can become worse over time (via Medical News Today).

Flat footwear is not a solid foundation for our feet. "It's sometimes better to just focus on foot health instead of fashion," Dr. Wiarda said, which is not exactly what every footwear fashionista wants to hear, but it makes sense if you're searching for summer fun. "If you have sore feet or ankles, you'll be less active. That's not any fun when the weather's nice."

You might develop bone spurs when you only wear flip flops

If your heels have been hurting and you only wear flip flops, you may have bone spurs.

Bone spurs are spike-like shapes that form from calcium building up. These deformities can appear on a person's heels after frequently wearing flip flops. Flip flops "can put stress on the arch of your foot and lead to inflammation of the tissue in your arch," according to Western Washington Medical Group, potentially leading to spurs.

Though as painful as this not-so-pretty deformity can be, many flip flop wearers won't even know they have them. Many times, bone spurs show no signs or symptoms for years as they build up in the background, which can cause serious problems later on. You could completely lose the ability to move the afflicted area if they get bad enough, according to the Mayo Clinic. The effects of flip flops can be frightening.

When you only wear flip flops, your body temperature may be better regulated in the summer heat

There is one plus when it comes to flaunting footwear that helps your feet soak up the summer sun. With the high temperatures that some areas of the world experience, wearing sneakers wouldn't be too helpful in the heat. For that, flip flops are the way to go.

What we put on our feet is a lot more important than we think because they help determine the temperature of our bodies. Our feet contain blood vessels that are able to flow very large amounts of blood very quickly through them in order to help cool the body down, as Jim Cotter, a professor of physical education at Otago University wrote in Stuff. Feet also don't contain as many muscles as the rest of our bodies. Muscles produce heat, so feet are able to stay cooler than the rest of our bodies.

Avoiding sweating in sneakers is definitely one reason to wear flip flops.

You're more likely to sprain your ankle when you wear flip flops

More than 25,000 emergency room visits were caused by flip flops in 2014, according to information that the Consumer Product Safety Commission obtained (via Miami Herald). Spraining your ankle is surprisingly the most common injury that comes from flaunting this popular summertime footwear.

Because there's no support when you wear flip flops, your body will begin to walk in a way that helps alleviate the pressure on your arches. Flip flop wearers walk on the inner part of their feet, which is more likely to cause injury. "You're not in touch with the ground and because these shoes move around, there's propensity for blistering of feet, tripping and injuries," podiatrist Dr. Stanley Sweet explained to Global News.

While the sweet sound of each flip and flip may be one of the best parts of enjoying a relaxing afternoon swim or sitting poolside, the disadvantages this go-to shoe could dampen our summer plans in more ways than one.