Oct 26, 2022
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Dr. Benjamin Tehrani provides insights on the pros and cons of sandals / flip flops / walking barefooted.

Hello everyone! Dr. Tehrani here! I've been getting a lot of questions in my clinic regarding wearing sandals vs flip flops. I have many patients that are wearing flip flops who are presenting with all sorts of ailments such as heel pain to arch pain and bunion pain. I wanted to shed some light on the pros and cons of sandals and flip flops so you all make better choices.

Your shoe choice more or less determines how comfortable you’ll remain throughout the day. Regardless of how cozy your clothing selection is, if your pair of flats or sandals pinch ever so slightly, your comfort level will swiftly start to decline. In an effort to avoid such discomfort, I wanted to let you know more about certain shoes you should avoid and others that are okay to wear.

Today, given that many are spending more time at home, we wanted to zero in on the best (and worst) shoes to wear around the house. 

Supportive sandals rather than thin flip flops such as Haviannas are preferred. I am impressed with styles like those from Birkenstock that have the ability to remain in style while also providing the best support in the arches that I've seen to date. They have a soft foot bed that has an integrated latex foam cushion that molds to your feet the more you walk in them. The insole is leather lined so it helps to keep the feet dry and makes it durable, which is why they're typically more expensive than the typical sandal. They are excellent for both men and women. I wear mine around the house and it helps prevent foot fatigue. I can do chores outside and in my house in comfort with these badboys on! 

It is okay, in moderation, to walk around the house barefoot as it builds strength in our ligaments and muscles of our feet, which can help prevent breakdown that can lead to arthritis and flat feet syndromes.

I prefer to wear a supportive sandal or slipper versus walking barefooted. Our bodies have adapted to the new-world environment of this concrete jungle, and our feet could use the support more than ever. There is absolutely nothing wrong with walking barefooted around the house but in moderation. For instance, if I am washing dishes or doing my laundry, I know I'll be spending lots of time standing in one place and putting pressure on my heels, arches, and balls of my feet. Even if you're in excellent shape, spending hours on your feet without support can lead to many foot, knee, and hip soft-tissue impairments! In those instances where I know I'm going to be on my feet for more than a half-hour, I prefer to wear sandals, such as Powersteps or Vionic, which have built-in orthotics that support your arches.

If you're going the sock route, cotton socks help wick sweat away, for those of you whose feet sweat a lot. Cotton is also thicker and provides more comfort for your feet, especially for people who can't stand wearing sandals or slippers around the house. I like to buy my cotton socks from COSTCO. There is also an excellent sock company called KANE11 that I absolutely love to wear daily!

In terms of what to search for in a sandle, pay attention to the bottom sole of the sandal or flip-flop. As a general rule of thumb, if it bends in the middle of the sole, it has very poor support and your feet will tire out quickly. Take your thumb and middle finger and grab the heel, do the same thing with your other hand on the ball of the sandal, then squeeze. If the central portion bends, it's literally doing nothing to support your arches during your walking cycle. 

Hope this helps!


Dr. Benjamin Tehrani, DPM, DABPM