4 Flip-Flop Injuries to Avoid This Summer

Common Injuries

Jul 14, 2023


Did you know that your favorite summer footwear choice can lead to painful injuries and health complications? This may come as a bit of a surprise, but we see many patients come into the emergency room during the summertime with “flip-flop injuries.” Although the summer shoe has been a staple for decades, there are many dangers of wearing flip-flops that most people overlook or do not know about. 

Not only are flip-flops an awful source of protection for your feet, but they can also cause painful and sometimes dangerous injuries. If you want to avoid sitting in the ER waiting room this summer, here are ways that you can avoid flip-flop injuries.

Dangers of wearing flip-flops

Now, before we dive into the dangers of wearing flip-flops, we want to make it clear that flip-flops are fine to wear for certain occasions and for short periods of time. For example, a short walk to and from the beach in flip-flops should be perfectly fine, but they should not be your main choice for footwear. Flip-flops can damage the tendons and ligaments in your foot as well as worsen your posture and the strength of your joints.

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why do my legs hurt after wearing flip-flops?” you may be experiencing what some people call “flip-flop syndrome.” 

What is flip-flop syndrome?

To put it simply, flip-flops are constructed in a way that offers no support, protection, or shock absorption for your foot which when worn for long periods of time, can cause pain. 

When you wear flip-flops, your toes have to work overtime to grip the shoes so that they can stay on your feet. This can lead to inflammation in your toes and the bottom of your feet (due to lack of arch support) known as plantar fasciitis. Shoes are meant to provide cushion and support to our feet to reduce any pain and stress, making this type of footwear harmful for everyday use, especially if you are frequently walking in them. 

The bottom line is that wearing flip-flops frequently can cause lasting pain and damage to your feet and legs. Over time, these minor pains can turn into painful conditions or can cause injuries. These strappy sandals also cannot protect your feet from injuries and, in some cases, can even be the reason that an injury occurs.

Most common flip-flop injuries

As an emergency room, we are shocked by the number of patients that come in during the summertime due to flip-flop injuries. Here are some of the most common flip-flop injuries that we see and treat:

1. Sprained ankles and fractures 

As mentioned earlier, the construction of a flip-flop causes the tendons in your toes and feet to overstretch or overwork just to keep your sandal on your foot as you move. Because of this, you are at a higher risk of twisting or overextending these tendons which can lead to ankle sprains or breaks. 

The symptoms of a broken ankle vs sprain can be hard to distinguish between, but both include swelling, pain, and decreased mobility, with a break being much more severe. If you are unsure of how to tell if your foot is fractured, you may hear a cracking or snapping sound if a bone is broken followed by intense pain, and usually the area looks deformed in some way. Bone fractures take a much longer time to heal than sprains and require medical intervention. 

2. Lacerations and punctures

Flip-flops are typically made from cheap, nondurable rubber or Polyethylene and are constructed in a way that leaves your feet fully exposed and therefore vulnerable to cuts and lacerations as well as puncture wounds. Choosing to wear these sandals out and about can land you in the ER for some serious injuries.

For example, if someone wearing flip-flops were to step on a nail or a shard of glass, those sharp objects could easily poke through the flip-flop and injure their foot. If the nail was rusty, you may need a tetanus shot to protect yourself from harmful infections*. The base of the shoe does not protect you from punctures or sharp objects cutting your feet as a regular shoe would, making them a less-than-safe footwear option to wear outside. 

*Keep reading: When to get a tetanus shot

3. Injuries from tripping or falling

When you wear flip-flops, the sandal is not very secure on your foot. There are no secure straps or laces to keep the shoe in place, just the wish-bone-shaped material that goes around the foot. Because of this, tripping and falling while wearing flip-flops is extremely common as they are not fastened to your feet. 

Injuries you could sustain after a trip and fall include:

  • Broken bones
  • Ankle sprains or fractures (Keep reading: Is a broken ankle an emergency?)
  • Collision with other people or objects
  • Concussions or other head injuries 
  • Cuts and scrapes 
  • Injuries to your hands, legs, feet, head, etc.

4. Toe injuries 

Open-toed shoes can always leave you at risk of a toe injury, but that risk is heightened if you wear flip-flops due to a lack of protection for the whole foot. If you were to drop something heavy on your toe or stub it forcefully against a hard surface, there is a greater chance that you could end up with a broken toe while wearing flip-flops as opposed to a more protective shoe. 

Broken toes can be incredibly painful and may require a trip to the emergency room to be examined. If the bruising or swelling doesn’t subside within a few days, head over to your nearest Complete Care emergency facility for assistance. 

How to prevent flip-flop injuries

The best way to avoid being inflicted with any painful flip-flop injuries is to avoid wearing flip-flops when you can. The truth is that flip-flops can be a convenient shoe choice for some scenarios, but they are not the best or safest footwear choice to wear on a regular basis. If you already deal with conditions that cause pain in your joints as you walk, such as sciatica or arthritis, throw away the flip-flops and opt for a more protective shoe style.

However, if you’re still insistent on wearing flip-flops during the summertime, avoid wearing them for long periods of time or in situations where lots of movement is involved. Even sitting down while wearing flip-flops for a while can make your toes cramp up to keep them on.

What to wear instead of flip-flops

Closed-toed shoes that cover the entire foot — such as a sneaker or a boot — are the best and safest footwear options as they provide the most coverage and protection. 

However, if you still want a sandal-like style that won’t put unnecessary stress on your feet, you do have other options. Select an athletic sandal with built-in arch support and buckles for security or a sandal design with thick straps that will keep your shoes from slipping off of your feet. The key is to have a shoe that is secure, comfortable, supportive, and protective. Sandals provide more breathability and can feel nice on hot summer days without the risk of injury from poor design.

Complete Care can treat any and all flip-flop injuries

Although the term “flip-flop injuries” may sound silly, many patients that visit our emergency facilities during the summertime have had pain or accidents caused by these flimsy shoes. No matter if you have a broken ankle or a horribly stubbed toe, the medical staff at Complete Care is here to help you. Our facilities are open 24/7 for you and your family. 

We have ER locations all over the state of Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs and treat a wide variety of injuries and ailments. At Complete Care, we’ve got you covered for all your summer emergencies.

More Helpful Articles by Complete Care: