Are Flip-Flops Bad for Your Feet?

Are Flip Flops Bad for Your Feet?

When summer rolls around, it’s time to get a pedicure, dust off your walking sandals or buy a new pair, and finally let your feet be free of closed-toe shoes. If you’re someone who counts down the days until sandal season, there’s a good chance you own a pair (or five) of flip-flops.

When you’ve been lacing sneakers and zipping up boots all winter, these iconic, beach-ready slip-ons can feel like a breath of fresh air. Flip-flops are lightweight, versatile, and budget-friendly compared to most other sandal styles. Yet when it comes to supportive design in these shoes and foot health, they have a bad rap. This leaves many people wondering, Are flip-flops bad for your feet?

Vionic was founded by the surf-loving, renowned podiatrist, Phillip Vasyli. Part of our mission is to get to the bottom of why certain shoes are bad for your feet and create stylish, orthotic alternatives. Keep reading for a breakdown on flip-flops and how Vionic’s flip flops with arch support are unlike any other sandal.


What to Know About Flip-Flops and Foot Health

Flip-flops are one of the top summer shoe styles on the market. They’re modeled after Japanese zōri sandals and have been a popular choice for both men and women in the U.S. since the 1960s[4]. With Y-shaped uppers (or toe thongs) and relatively thin, flexible soles, people tend to love flip-flops for their simple design.

But the simplicity of standard rubber flip-flops also makes them notably flimsy[3]. If you’ve experienced foot pain or discomfort after walking more than half a mile in regular thong sandals, you might have a hunch as to why they have a reputation for being bad for your foot health.

From a footwear design standpoint, standard flip-flops are lacking in a couple of areas. The loose fit literally makes them flop around on your feet[1]. And when you add in super-thin flat soles, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Wearing loose-fitting sandals that lack arch support can cause:

  • Blisters, bunions, and calluses
  • Hammertoes
  • Shin splints
  • Arch pain
  • Muscle soreness
  • Overpronation
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Sprained ankles
  • Stubbed toes
  • Alignment issues
  • Overuse injuries

A lot of times, people scrunch up their toes to keep their flip-flops from slipping off. This can change your gait, which is hard on your arches and legs. If your sandals come off while you’re walking—which tends to happen on an uphill incline—it can lead to ankle sprains or stubbed toes.

Additionally, many flip-flop wearers overpronate, meaning their feet angle inward as they walk[5]. As a result, their outer heels touch the ground first, which rolls the foot toward the arch. This flattens the arches and causes substantial strain on your feet, ankles, Achilles tendon, knees, and hips[5].

Essentially, loose-fitting, unsupportive shoes make your feet work much harder than they need to, which can result in a broad range of foot problems[1]. On top of that, the additional effort it takes to walk in standard flip-flops can wear you out much quicker than proper footwear[2].


The Flip Side of Flip-Flops

If you’re like a lot of beach-dwellers, there may be nothing that’ll convince you to stop wearing flip-flops. But the good news is that you don’t have to! While podiatrists and other medical experts warn people about the effects of wearing the traditionally flimsy shoe, not all flip-flops are created equal.

Vionic founder Phillip Vasyli recognized how crucial it was to innovate the design of thong sandals. As a result of his groundbreaking ideas, we’re proud to offer innovative flip-flops that actually benefit your feet.

Performance Flip-Flops from Vionic


If you think you love flip-flops now, we’re willing to bet you’ll appreciate them even more after trying an orthotic pair from Vionic. Our flip-flops embrace the timeless silhouette while promoting foot health.

Vio-Motion Support

All Vionic shoes have built-in Vio-Motion Support technology. This means three-zone comfort which provides stability, arch support and cushioning for a difference you can feel all day. The injection-molded rubber soles are as lightweight as standard thong sandals yet much more durable and supportive.

Vionic flip-flops are designed to stay on your feet, which allows you to relax your toes while keeping your ankles and calves in a neutral position. As a result, you’ll have better alignment and avoid straining your muscles and tendons.

While many people assume built-in orthotics mean shoes can’t be fashionable, this isn’t the case with Vionic. The biomechanics are expertly embedded into each pair of shoes and totally concealed. By the naked eye, they look just like the footwear styles you know and love.

Proven Foot Health Benefits

Vionic contoured sandals have been proven to provide foot health benefits. In a peer-reviewed study with 150 participants who had existing heel pain, our sandals were shown to be better at relieving pain than standard flip-flops. Not only that, but they also demonstrated to be just as effective as our best-selling orthotics at treating heel pain.

After 12 weeks, the participants who wore Vionic orthotic sandals were nearly 70% more likely to experience improvement in their pain levels than those who wore standard flip-flops. The results of the study tell us that adequate support is essential in alleviating and preventing heel pain. Not only that, but those with foot conditions aren’t limited to closed-toe shoes with orthotic inserts. With a supportive, contoured design, sandals can be just as good.


APMA Seal of Acceptance

Many podiatrist-designed shoes from Vionic carry an APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) Seal of Acceptance. This means they’re beneficial to foot health and offer sufficient support.

During the certification process, a group of APMA podiatrists reviews and analyzes a shoe to determine its quality, safety, and effectiveness. Vionic is one of the only brands that has demonstrated proper support with multiple footwear designs.

It All Comes Down to Support

Besides flip-flops, you might be wondering about other open-toed shoes. So, are sandals bad for your feet? Although ill-fitting sandals that lack support can be bad for your feet, orthotic footwear is another story.

When looking for sandals that are good for your feet, be sure to look for sturdy soles with adequate arch support and cushioning. Better yet, opt for styles with shock-absorbing soles and patterned tread[1]. This minimizes muscle soreness and allows you to walk on virtually any terrain with plenty of traction. Remember that it’s not only about the support in your sandals, but it’s also about how they fit. Check out our guide, How Should Sandals Fit, to find your perfect fit.


Not Your Mother’s Flip-Flops

If you’re an unapologetic flip-flop devotee, we can’t blame you! The slip-on sandals flatter every body type and complement pretty much any casual warm-weather ensemble. And it’s hard to beat the barefoot feel of such flexible, lightweight shoes.

Apart from a trip to the beach, many occasions call for a pair of flip-flops. They’re ideal for going to the pool, barbecuing, running errands, road-tripping, relaxing on vacation, and even simple tasks like taking out the trash, letting your dog out, and checking the mail.

Everyone can use a pair of these go-with-the-flow shoes whether it be as everyday shoes or travel shoes. With that said, Vionic is pleased to tell you that you don’t have to overhaul your beachy, laid-back style or opt-out of your favorite activities this season.

A Timeless Style with Cutting-Edge Contouring

Don’t let the warnings about standard, non-supportive flip-flops scare you away from rocking them all summer. While shoes are definitely a culprit when it comes to foot problems, all you need is the right pair. And that’s where Vionic comes in.

Simply put, Vionic’s men’s flip flops and women’s flip-flops are a better version of the timeless beach sandal. They come in numerous colors, prints, and patterns in both simple and embellish designs. Comfortable, pain-free flip-flops in the classic style you’ve always worn—what’s not to love?

And until you slide them on your feet and experience the support yourself, you’d never know the cushioned soles are on par with athletic shoes. That’s right—Vionic flip-flops are made for walking.


Beach Shoes from Vionic

vionic beach sandals

At Vionic, hitting the beach is one of our favorite summertime activities. And since spending time at the ocean is all about relaxing and recreation, comfort is essential. We’re passionate about creating beach footwear for men and women in a variety of styles that are not only not bad for your feet but also good for them.

From flip-flops to espadrilles to gladiators, you’ll be able to find an open-toed pair of sandals that you’ll love to wear time and time again. Wondering how to wear gladiators and other types of sandals? Check out our Healthy Footnotes blog for supportive footwear and style advice!

Whether you’re planning to chill out on the sand, walk along the beach or boardwalk, hit the waves, or splash in the tide, Vionic has a pair of beach shoes for you. Your feet will be supported, comfortable, and pain-free all day, thanks to our comfortable sandals for women and men.

Browse men’s and women’s orthotic sandals with Vio-Motion Support from Vionic today.


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