Flip-flops have come a long way from their humble beginnings as a beach and pool staple. You can still get the cheap, plastic thongs at grocery and drug stores for a few bucks but you can also invest in a pair of plastic designer ones with Australian Crystals which will cost you $ 140 a pair! Due to their popularity, and relative comfort, they have migrated from the pool and beach scene to everyday wear, which includes the work place.

If a company has a dress code, chances are flip flops are singled out as inappropriate footwear. The resurgence of their popularity has become the bane of many human resource managers. Most classify their style as “beachwear”, but many employees see them as a comfortable summer accessory. But, it turns out that these beloved shoes can not only damage to your career, but they can be damaging to your feet, ankles, and even your back.

Wearing your favorite flip-flops for a few hours at the pool or on the beach is totally appropriate. Problems arise when you wear them for 5-10 hours a day. Even though they might be the perfect compliment for your cute summer dress they are not designed to be worn for long periods of time. Most are completely flat with no support for the arch and the heel. Generally, they provide no shock absorption when you walk. Once you leave the beach, they expose your feet to a host of injuries including blisters, stubbed toes and nail injuries.

Physicians and podiatrists have been complaining for years about the medical problems that result from their excessive usage. Physicians are reporting that due to the lack of support, they can lead to foot pain and even plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the band of tissue that extends along the bottom of the foot causing extreme pain. Lack of support can cause even further damage to the alignment of the body, which is a precursor for hip and back injuries.

Other medical problems include tendinitis, ankle injuries and Achilles tendon issues due to the stretching of this tendon. Daily wear can cause shin splints because they provide no shock absorption. Additionally, if the shock from the heel strike is not appropriately appropriated from the ground it is transmitted to other parts of the body such as the lower leg, hip, knee and the back.

Do you know where your flip-flops have been? Consider that the ground is full of pathogens and bacteria that get sucked up with the motion of the “flop” and can land on your skin causing a nasty skin infection. Bacteria including fecal matter, skin and respiratory germs can also get on the walking surface of the shoe and lead to sickness.

Recent studies of the popular summer footwear indicate they can harbor over 180,000 bacteria per pair including lethal germs. The presence of these germs is always there regardless of your footwear, but if you have a cut or blister on your unprotected foot it can easily turn into a serious infection.

There are some people with compromised feet due to other health reasons that should never wear flip-flops including people with circulatory problems, arthritis or neuromas. A closed toe and heel is most supportive and protective for these individuals.

Flip-flops are fun, free spirited and comfortable. Wear them with abandon in appropriate environments and for limited periods of time and you should not have any trouble.