Marjie Gilliam
Cox Newspapers

During the summer, flip-flops and similar shoe styles are a popular choice. But orthopedic doctors at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York are seeing an increase in injuries related to wearing unsupportive shoes like flip-flops, particularly when worn all day, when walking on concrete or pavement, or while exercising or playing sports.

The footwear offers limited support and coverage for the feet, resulting in a modification of gait that can cause foot, ankle, leg, hip and back pain.

A flat and flimsy shoe bed does not provide adequate support for all-day wear, leading to arch pain, plantar fasciitis and nerve issues. Those who overpronate (feet roll in excessively) can be especially susceptible to problems when wearing shoes that donít provide sufficient stability.

People modify their normal walking pattern when wearing flip-flops, gripping with their toes to keep the shoes in place. This can lead to strain and overworking of different muscles and risk of injury.

Sandal wearers must remember to apply sunscreen to the feet. Mount Sinai podiatrist Dr. Bryan Markinson has seen a sharp rise in foot melanoma in his practice. Few people understand or think of the foot as a place where skin cancer can arise, but foot melanoma can be deadly.

Lack of shock absorption can cause pain to feet, legs, hips and back. Broken toes and toenails are frequent problems when wearing flip-flops.

Andrew Weil, M.D., and Phil Vasyli, podiatrist and founder of Orthaheel, say that many people claim that comfort is a top priority, yet thatís often the last thing they are getting with the flattest flip-flops and rubber straps.

The solution is to look for shoes that hold The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance.

The APMA offers these tips when selecting flip-flops:

ē Ensure that your foot doesnít hang off of the edge of the shoe.

ē Wearing a sturdy pair of flip-flops when walking around a public pool, at the beach, in hotel rooms and in locker room areas is appropriate and a safer way to go.

ē Donít wear the same flip-flops year after year.

ē Donít wear flip-flops while walking long distances.

ē Donít do yard work while wearing sandals/flip-flops.

ē Donít exercise or play sports in unsupportive footwear.