Worrying about having pedicured toes at all times this summer: out. Worrying about what your babouches' lack of ankle support is doing to your arches: very in. Because we're all vaguely aware that flip-flops suck for foot health but blithely choose to ignore it, here, we've brought in Dr. Jackie Sutera, podiatrist and member of Vionic Shoes Innovation Lab, to rank how awful your other shoes are. Now, in order of least to most terrible...
"These can be a great option because they provide shock absorption and cushioning because of their sneaker-type foundation. Look for brands and styles that have an arch inside, or slip one in. But remember, these should not be used for workouts or as a shoe for extended walking. Use them to walk to and from work instead, for example."
"The flat and thinner slides and mules can be worse for you than ones with a thicker sole and even a small heel. Word of caution: Because there isn't a back to these shoes or extra straps, wear them in moderation and not for long periods of walking." [Editor's note: Uh oh.]
"Espadrilles can actually be a healthier option for warm-weather shoes. Some elevated styles can have straps, which help secure your foot. A bonus would be if you could put an arch support in a flatter style."
"Very thin and flat styles are horrible for feet! These should be left for poolside, the beach, and showering at hotels. They are bad because they offer no support and your toes have to over-grip to keep them on your feet. Those with a thicker sole and arch support are more appropriate for walking and standing."
"In general, I don't recommend going barefoot for long periods of time. Standing and walking on surfaces like hardwood, marble, and stone floors can be very harsh on feet. Grass, sand, and carpet are more forgiving and provide more shock absorption. Fat pads on bottom of feet wear away over time (fat pad atrophy), which leaves you with skin and bone in later years of life. This is why elderly people often need orthopedic shoes or wear sneakers almost exclusively."