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Warning: Flip-flops are a health hazard

Updated on September 20, 2012

Flip-flops: a word of warning

If you have a pair of flip-flops my advice is to throw them away because this item of footwear is a danger to your personal health! I know this because I had an accident wearing them and now have lost my big toenail of my left foot, have badly bruised that toe and the one next to it, as well as grazing my hands.

It turns out that I am not alone in having hurt myself by wearing flip-flops. I discovered that I have friends who have injured themselves by wearing this type of footwear and the entry in Wikipedia points out the dangers they can cause too.

Badly wounded toes

My big toe injury from wearing flip-flops. Photo by Steve Andrews
My big toe injury from wearing flip-flops. Photo by Steve Andrews

My accident

I was wearing flip-flops because the soles of my far better sandals had worn out. I don’t like flip-flops but had a pair and thought I could learn to get along with them just like so many other people I see wearing them. I was very wrong and should have stuck to my instincts, as I now know after the damage has been done.

The other day I missed the bus back to the village I live in which is just a few kilometres from the town of Icod de los Vinos where I had been doing some shopping. I decided to walk it as I have often done in the past along the narrow downhill road into San Marcos which is near the sea.

About halfway along the way I stumbled and fell putting my hands out in front of me. I had fallen on gravel and concrete and some of my shopping had fallen out of the bag and was now on the road. I was in pain and shock but picked myself up. My hand was bleeding and my one foot was bleeding very badly too, especially the big toe.

I retrieved the cans of shopping that were on the road and hobbled my way back to the apartments I live in. When I got in I felt really woozy and broke out into a sweat. I felt really faint and had to lie down until I felt better.

The shock

I went into the bathroom to wash the blood away from my wounds and it was then that I had a real shock because I saw that the reason my big toe was bleeding so badly is because I had lost the toenail. It must have ripped out when I fell. This was far worse than just stubbing my toe. I had badly damaged it.

I think that my feeling of faintness was probably a delayed reaction to the pain and shock. At least I was home because it could have been worse if I had collapsed out on the road.

Facebook

Later on in the afternoon I posted a status update and Facebook. I also took a photo of my foot (the one included here too) and posted that too.

There were loads of replies from friends with all sending best wishes for my recovery, many suggesting all sorts of treatments including hydrogen peroxide, which I have and had already been using, painkillers and an urgent appointment with a doctor. The last option is of no use to me because I have no healthcare here having not paid in enough to be covered.

Some of my friends shared painful accidents they had also had whilst wearing flip-flops. For example Julie Hume posted: “Still wear flippies though I bust my toe open on the door of Caja Rural a couple of months back. Not a pretty sight.”

And Debbie Lewis Allen said: “I too despise flip flops ever since I tripped on a rock wearing them and tore the ligaments in my ankle and Achilles tendon and was in a soft cast for 6 weeks. NOOO to flip flops and yes to sandals”

Flip-flops

Flip-flops Havaianas. In public domain. Source: Wikipedia
Flip-flops Havaianas. In public domain. Source: Wikipedia | Source

Wikipedia warning

The Wikipedia detailed entry about flip-flops has this information: “Flip-flops can result in many pains and injuries. Individuals who walk for long periods report pain in the feet, ankles, and lower legs. The lack of support often results inover-pronation injuries, caused by the foot slipping inwards further than normal.”

It goes on to add that this lack of support can cause flat feet and tendinitis. Not only that but “Anklesprains or broken bones are common injuries, due to stepping off a curb or tumbling.”

According to Wikipedia cuts, scrapes, bruises and stubbed toes are all other minor injuries that can result from flip-flops being worn.

A big part of the problem is there is no support or strap at the back and your foot can easily fall out of the flip flop. To compensate for this the wearer may scrunch their toes around the front strap in an effort to hold on to the poorly designed item of footwear.

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In conclusion

It is really amazing how popular flip-flops are. In reality it is a very dangerous piece of footwear. Yet in warm countries, and elsewhere in the summer months, you will see loads of people wearing flip-flops and find them on sale in most shoe shops and in holiday locations in all outlets for tourist merchandise.

I have never seen a warning about them. Of course, I should have trusted my instincts and never bought a pair or wore them, not even if my sandals were ruined.

I like to do a lot of walking but won’t be able to do much for a while now, which is very bad news for me. I have joined the other people with arthritis or disabilities that cause them to have to shuffle along very slowly and render them unable to walk at all in some terrain such as mountainous countryside or on rocky ground.

The only good thing about this horrible experience is that it has taught me never to wear flip-flops again. I will be throwing this pair out now that they have caused me much harm. I will not be at all sad to see them go in my rubbish bin!

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

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    • Omniscient Nomad profile image

      Albert 4 years ago from Miami

      looks painful

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Don't like the looks of that. I love flip flops but I have tripped in them. They kill my back so I rarely wear them unless it's just around the house. Thanks for sharing your experience with them. Voted up.

    • profile image

      minababe 4 years ago

      Flip flops are dangerous, but IMO only in certain circumstances. You see, they were designed to really only be worn around the house and the beach, but for some reason they've become "popular" to the point where people are wearing them everywhere they go. I've even seen cyclists (yes cyclists!) wearing them out on the road! I don't know why flip flops reached such popularity, but they have for some reason.

      Anyway, I'm sorry this happened to you; that is one nasty (and really painful looking) injury!

    • Green Bard profile image
      Author

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Tenerife

      Thanks for your feedback, Omniscient Nomad, Moonlake and minababe! Yes, it is very painful!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Oh How awful! Your picture says it all. Glad you tossed your flip-flops out. I lost my big toenail once. Owwwwwwwwwe! voted up and more.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      I hate the horrible things, In fact I can't wear them through the toes anyway, always makes my feet hurt with that horrible bit through the big toe and middle toe, that photo looks awful, I actually cringed! ouch! the trouble with me wearing them also is the fact that my feet go forward but the stupid flip flop stays in one place and I pitch forward! hope your foots better soon, voted up!

    • Green Bard profile image
      Author

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Tenerife

      Thanks for your comments and votes, vocalcoach and Nell!

      Nell, yes, I certainly "pitched forward" when I fell and that is why I got hurt so badly!

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 4 years ago from Guildford

      My goodness this looks and sounds positively ghastly! Thanks for the warning.

    • Green Bard profile image
      Author

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Tenerife

      Fortunately for me the swelling has gone down a lot and the bruising is fading but the scabs remain and it is still painful.

    • teacher stories profile image

      teacher stories 4 years ago from San Diego

      I can't stop wearing them--I love them too much! Summer in Washington, DC (where I visit for long periods of time) it is too hot for anything else. I'm willing to live dangerously.

    • Green Bard profile image
      Author

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Tenerife

      Well I really hope what happened to me doesn't happen to you! My advice get sandals with at least a strap at the back so you foot can't fall out!

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

      I remembered your photograph and just had to return to your Hub. Flip flops are the thing people wear, but I won't wear them. They have no support, and I already have flat feet. Walk around in those flip flops long enough, and you are bound to have back problems. As shower and spa shoes? Yes! As regular shoes? No!

    • Green Bard profile image
      Author

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Tenerife

      The good news is that I can walk again OK but I still have a big scab on my big toe and no toenail! I have no support in the open-toed sandals I am currently wearing either and the soles have gone through but at least they have a strap at the back.

    • profile image

      Ahava Dobbers 4 years ago from Midwest

      I've heard that flip-flops are not the best shoes to wear but unfortunately so many people decide to not invest in good sandals and wear these cheap "form" of shoes. I, too, own a pair or two of them but need to find a good 'ol pair of sandals as my left shoe of the best sandal I have ever worn got taken away by a a Pacific wave. I appreciated your article as it did move me to get to shopping for a good one and your picture emphasized it as well.......

    • Green Bard profile image
      Author

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Tenerife

      Thanks for posting! My toes have healed up but I have no big toenail still and have possibly lost that for good. I found a pair of sandals with a strap at the heel for just 6€ and am wearing then now. Just to think that if I had had them before that this would never have happened!

    • innerspin profile image

      innerspin 4 years ago from uk

      This reminded me of when I was about ten years old, running in flip flops along tarmac. What was I thinking? Yes, I tripped and stubbed my foot at high speed and bust the end of my big toe. So you have my sympathy. I've never worn flip flops since.. in fact, I'm not sure I've run anywhere either! Hope you're okay now.

    • Green Bard profile image
      Author

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Tenerife

      Thanks, yes, my toes are OK again now but I have no toenail on my big toe!

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