Before you slip on your Havianas, know this: According to the National Foot Health Assessment 2012,
78 percent of people over 21 have had at least one foot problem in their lives—and flip-flops might be the culprit.
It’s not hard to see why. Since your feet are more inclined to slip out, you’re welcoming blisters and chafing. Plus, a lack of support means strain on your feet in all the wrong places, says David Levine, M.D., a foot and ankle surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
This summer staple might be a real health flop. Aside from the obvious lack of protection (meaning you’re more vulnerable to dropped objects, stubbed toes and the like), your favorite pair could be seriously damaging your feet. “The feet are the foundation of your whole body. This is the base of the skeleton,” says Jackie Sutera, a podiatrist in New York City. “It’s a domino effect… the rest of your joints and bones have to compensate.” Like anything else, moderation is key: Slipping flip flops on by the pool or for a short jaunt likely won’t cause any harm — the problems arise when your thongs become your go-to summer shoes. Sutera, along with Cary Zinkin, a podiatrist in Deerfield Beach Fla., and a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association, break down exactly what’s happening to your foot when you slide into a pair.