Comment from: Ben Donnelly [Visitor]  
Ben Donnelly

Flip-flops are actually WORSE than bare feet. But so is pretty much every other kind of shoe. It's incorrect to say that bare feet are not equipped to handle concrete or other hard surfaces. They can handle pretty much anything given enough preparation and time spend uncovered to allow the skin to thicken and toughen.

Shoes take this away, and so do flipflops. The lack of ankle support is a red herring. Bare feet do not need ankle support. But if you're wearing flipflops the foot movement is restricted and you don't use all the independent muscles and bones to their full effect. In fact you find yourself using muscles in your feet almost exclusively to keep the flipflop on your foot rather than to walk efficiently and healthily.

Pretty much every shoe has its own problem. That almost always includes the hygiene issue of allowing sweat and warmth to build up and feed microbes which is unhealthy, but also the prevention of the natural development of the foot - not just the thickness of the sole, but also the strength of the muscles and foot structure that unhindered would allow a person to walk or run quickly and efficiently over any surface, including man-made pavements and with little or no regard for little stones, or even the odd bit of broken glass.

So-called "barefoot shoes" - a moronically nonsensical term - have plenty of problems, including the hygiene one, and the toughening of the skin. They also have the issue of heat dissipation. The feet can generate a lot of heat when working hard, and most of it is released through the sole. When barefoot, the air circulation can carry this heat away which is an enormous mental liberation while exercising. If this heat does not escape it becomes mentally and physically very draining.

Finally, the other problem common to all shoes, (because all shoes cover the soles) is the decrease in sensitivity limits a person from using information about the ground to find the most efficient steps. Cushioning which cuts off useful information for balance leads to a "one size fits all" approach denying a person to exploit feedback from the ground and their contact with it.

It is a nonsense to say that desensitisation is a good thing. It might seem that way to someone thinking from a shoe-wearing point of view. You might think that going barefoot is always painful, based on the experience of going barefoot for the first time without having the opportunity to develop your feet properly. What you find is that once you have built up your feet properly what might once have been experienced as a painful sensation, is simply manifested as information about what is there. It's analogous to coming out of a dark room and experiencing daylight. To the unacclimatised eyes it's a painful blinding light. To everyone else it's the normal daylight that we take for granted.

So by all means criticise flip-flops. But don't you dare suggest that their problems related to being close to going barefoot. And absolutely do not suggest that shoes such as vibram five fingers, which most certainly are SHOES and nothing like going barefoot are ideal either.

07/19/12 @ 15:49
Comment from: [Member]


I don't think I can argue with much of anything you're saying, which if I had to summarize it, would be that barefoot is best/ideal/the most healthy way to go.

Flip flops, FiveFingers, and any and all shoes are explicity *not* barefoot, thus as you noted in your second sentence, pretty much all shoes are worse than bare feet.

07/19/12 @ 16:02
Comment from: mike [Visitor]

Sorry but in the hot summers and at the beach I'll continue to wear my flip flops. It gets too hot sometimes to wear my VFF's. I love them both and will continue to wear them. I am barefoot 24/7 aroibd my house even through the winter so it makes up for it. I'll keep my 9 pairs of flip flops thank you.

07/19/12 @ 16:38
Comment from: Andrew [Visitor]

All it takes for me is a day in flip flops (thongs - in Australia) and I have knee pain.

I wear VFF everyday with no issues.

Flip Flops = Guilty

07/19/12 @ 19:00
Comment from: Steve [Visitor]

Hail the (good) flip-flop! I'm a true original equipment manufacturer barefoot runner at home that uses VFF See Yas when traveling or Altra Instincts on some UT mountain trails, but I live in flip flops most summer days. I've found that Crocs makes a superb flip flop in terms of cushioning (good in my view for rapid paced walking on paved surfaces when I stride out and thus heel strike), toe splay, and the lack of a need to grip with your toes as described in this article. My major gripe is the "drop" of all Crocs but so little in life is perfect.

A zero drop Croc flip flop that doesn't require toe grab would be my ideal choice.

Long live the flip flop!

07/19/12 @ 19:42
Comment from: Rich [Visitor]

Barefoot has its own issues. Totally impractical in the extreme heat or cold. No protection against sharp objects. Your feet get really dirty. And, of course, many places of business will not admit you. As someone living in a major modern city, barefoot is simply not practical and not going to happen, whatever the theoretical benefits. We can wring our hands about that, or we can find a suitable shoe that doesn't have too many compromises. I'd rather do the latter.

As for flip flops, I've never been a fan. I just don't find them that comfortable. And the strap digging into the top of the foot seems like it can't be a good thing.

07/19/12 @ 19:45
Comment from: Cody R. [Visitor]
Cody R.

you know, there's more than just flip flops...if you REALLY CAN"T go barefoot/wear minimal footwear, there are sandals with a strap across the foot which doesn't mess with your foot, unless the strap cramps the pinky, that's why i have a pair that go across the top of the foot, but that's only when i get lazy and just move a couple feet outside if for some reason or have to go to the store real quick and they won't let me go barefoot...

07/19/12 @ 20:29
Comment from: vintong [Visitor]

lol as an asian man who grew up in asia, flip flops are our everday foot wear for generations. no wonder podiatrist are rare in asia. very rare. flip flops are our casual foot wear and leave it outside when u enter someone's home and go barefoot. seriously that article is ridicoulous to me. sorry

07/19/12 @ 21:34
Comment from: Bakaiya [Visitor]

Barefoot has no protection against sharp objects? Because, uh, we evolved to wear shoes? No. If you go barefoot a few times a week for a few months, you will get to the point that pretty much most "sharp objects" do nothing. The world is not filled with upwards pointing shards of glass, razer blades, and the like. If where you live is, well, that's your issue, but that's not true here. Large enough pieces of glass to injure me are extremely easy to see.

You know the most dangerous place to be barefoot? The beach. You know, where people go barefoot all the time without thinking about it. Not only can glass/needles/razer blades/whatever be hidden, they can point upwards. Yet rarely do we hear of people being mutilated by objects on the beach, even when the people going barefoot there usually only are barefoot there and only a few times a month. Clearly, "sharp things" is more an excuse to put up with what you know is wrong than an actual reason.

Which gets to the real issue. You shouldn't just wring your hands and go "oh well, can't win" at things like NSNSNS policies. Those exist because of myths, not reasons, and giving in to them makes you as bad as the people enforcing them, because you know that they are not true, when the business might not. Even the supposed social stigma against bare feet is itself unfounded so horribly obviously by the fact people wear flipflops without concern.

It might be hard, and I know I still am forced to put on shoes often, but don't give into the idea you have to comply. False claims need to be challenged. It is the duty of every intelligent person to question assertions, especially when they are being used to justify forcing people to behave a certain way.

07/19/12 @ 23:41
Comment from: Andy Brundrett [Visitor]
Andy Brundrett

Biggest problem I have ever had with flip flips/sandals is catching the sole on something. I don't own a pair of flip flops and don't expect to. I'm happy with my various models of VFF (though looking forward to more insulated and water resistant ones).
I could go on about the other bits but I do think flip flops could be dangerous but it depends on the person.
My 2 cents, AndyB, NH.

07/20/12 @ 00:02
Comment from: Paul M. [Visitor]
Paul M.

I grew up in the Philippines and we wore flip-flops everywhere, even when playing basketball. Someone even wrote a book about this:

07/20/12 @ 01:04
Comment from: Adam [Visitor]

I personally don't like flip-flops. I never really have, for some reason I can't find one that is comfortable. But I do wear huarraches and I love them, still can't figure that one out. I don't really think that flip-flops are detrimental to ones health. But you can trip in the pretty easily. And that dude in the article that said humans aren't meant to walk on man made surfaces like pavement and asphalt, and that they are bad for your feet seems dumb to me. I have walked on pavement barefoot and unless it is 100 degrees outside it is fine. The WORST surface I have found to walk on barefoot is natural stuff like rocks in the mountains and riverbeds. And believe it or not grass pastures are pretty harsh on the feet, some of those grass shoots you could use as a weapon because of how stiff they are. Try stepping on one of those barefoot. Makes you wonder how humans made it as far as we did without shoes. Our feet must be tougher than we think. Basically I don't agree with the artcle.

07/20/12 @ 08:46
Comment from: Rich [Visitor]

@ Bakaiya: dunno where you live, but I live in Boston' and work a professional job. Barefoot is not practical. You can talk about what should be and what might be, but that's the reality of the world I live in.

And I don't agree with you about sharp things. There's broken glass and other debris on the street pretty regularly in cities. A piece of glass does not have to be large to injure you - even a small one can leave a bad cut. Glass is nasty stuff.

I love minimal shoes and am a big fan of the theories behind them, but IMO advocating full barefoot in the modern world is both unrealistic and unnecessary. Unrealistic because it's not going to be accepted and unnecessary because even if society didn't care, i'd rather wear a minimal shoe. The protection from weather, sharp stuff, and gross stuff is well worth whatever I'm giving up -- and again, if we're talking about a vff style shoe, I'm not quite sure what it is that I'm giving up anyway.

07/20/12 @ 10:32
Comment from: Billy [Visitor]

"These days I tend to avoid footwear that gets in the way of natural bio-mechanics."

I'm stealing that. This matches my current view on footwear, and states it more succinctly than I've been able to.

Another view I currently hold is, footwear are tools. Some tools are better than others. In some cases, flip flops are a better tool than the typical "supportive, toe-constricting, heel-elevating mainstream/traditional footwear". Some cases they're not. Flip flops "get in the way of natural bio-mechanics" more than bare feet, less than shoes, but they often present a tripping hazard, and don't provide as much sure-footedness as shoes or bare feet. In cases where sure-footedness is desired, I will opt for bare feet or shoes. For example, I will mow my yard barefoot, or in shoes, but not in flip flops.

I've almost completely retired my flip flops in favor of my huaraches, which I consider superior to flip flops in almost every situation (except public acceptance).

But in general, for day-to-day walking on concrete, asphalt, grass, gravel, carpet, etc.... I will agree with you that flip flops are better than shoes, but still not as good as bare feet.

07/20/12 @ 10:51
Comment from: Mr. Leigh [Visitor]
Mr. Leigh

I ruined so many pair of flip-flops in my youth. I wore them a lot, when not barefoot. I never had the cheap sandals as depicted in the post, but I had a lot of foam bottomed, fabric strapped sandals. I would have blow outs or have the straps pull out of the foam. I do not think they were at all harmful to me. Ideal? No, but certainly not harmful. The only instances where hard might have occurred was the occasion turned ankle from having a strap blow out. That was minor temporary discomfort, not long term damage. I agree that flip-flops, or any shoes for that matter, are not barefoot. I also agree that there are times when barefoot is not socially acceptable, like it or not. I am not at all surprised that podiatrists are attacking flip-flops. They have been attacking VFFs for years and flip flops are far more mainstream and socially acceptable the VFFs. If you ask most podiatrists, everyone needs a heavily padded, clunky shoe with an orthodic in it, because apparently no one has correct feet.

07/20/12 @ 10:59
Comment from: Bakaiya [Visitor]

Sorry, but the claims about broken glass are still false. I walk barefoot often and have walked on small pieces of glass several times totally uninjured. No, "even a small one can leave a bad cut" is not true. You didn't even address the issue of beaches, which I find a pretty serious issue with claims about glass being a serious danger.

You obviously wouldn't know, though, if you don't go barefoot - I do, so, please stop the misinformation. It hurts people to whom the biggest issue is that sort of misinformation being used against them.

How would you feel if people wanted to ban your minimalist shoes for not being enough protection? Probably, not very happy. That's how people like me feel. Please respect the decisions and goals of people like me and stop propagating lies. There really isn't that much difference between our situations.

07/20/12 @ 17:13
Comment from: Derpy [Visitor]

@Bakaiya - why are you so antagonistic?

If you don't have a problem with broken glass, count yourself lucky! But please respect that others do, especially if they're not usually going barefoot.

Nobody wants to deny you your right to go barefoot if that's what you chose, either. But this place - in general, and this post in particular - is a place for discussion and talk. If you're not interested in that and if you cannot deal with others expressing different opinions, seeing things from a different angle or making different decisions, you may want to reconsider what you're doing here, and why.

07/21/12 @ 08:39
Comment from: Andrew Bueno [Visitor]
Andrew Bueno

I didn't read the majority of the comments, but from my understanding flip flops do not allow for the 'windlass mechanic' to work.

Kelley Starrett, DPT and CrossFitter, runs a mobility website and has discussed this in length: (WFS)

The author Justin mentioned the lack of dorsiflexion and how pinching with the great toe disrupts proper mechanics.

07/21/12 @ 21:06
Comment from: Cel [Visitor]

Flip Flops and similar sandals without strap behind the heel present one big inconvenience for me: they force me to heelstrike whilst walking, because they tend to fall off otherwise.

07/22/12 @ 12:43
Comment from: [Member]

I used to be a big fan of flip-flop sandals. I wore them all summer, every summer growing up and on into my adulthood until recently. My complaints with flip-flops have nothing to do with what Justin has covered or from what I've read of the comments thus far. The reason I stopped wearing flip-flops for the most part is that I'm more likely to trip or stub a toe while walking in them, especially when I try to run in them (it happens on occasion when you find yourself having to hurry somewhere). I also tend to trip up in them whilst walking backwards, i.e. when helping move furniture! So yes, I admit, I probably shouldn't be wearing flip flops when I'm doing household chores or am in a hurry to get somewhere, but that's life; you often find yourself in a situation and must do what you have to do with what you have! :) I also feel like this walking motion with the flip-flops isn't very "natural." Not a big complaint in that department as I don't think it's really caused me any grief, but just another corroborating observation based on the comments I've read here. So for me I guess what I'm saying is that I don't feel like flip-flops are the "safest" of footwear for everyday, every circumstance wear (at least for me). They are incredibly popular though so to each their own; I prefer a sandal that has a heel strap and no strap between the toes! Right now I'm really liking the Unshoes Pah Tempe I reviewed some time ago; still going strong!

07/22/12 @ 15:29
Comment from: Rich [Visitor]

@ Bakaiya: I second what Derpy said. I'm not sure why you're making this so personal or acting like I'm trying to deprive you of your constitutional rights or something.

I'm not "propagating lies" -- I'm offering a perspective that's different from yours. In my opinion, going totally barefoot is neither safe nor practical in urban environments. (I'm not sure what you want me to say about beaches, as that really has nothing to do with what I'm talking about, which is going barefoot in cities). If you've had a good experience being barefoot in urban settings then more power to you. But don't assume that your experience proves your point in some global sense. It means that it works for you. And that's great. But to say things like it's untrue that a small piece of glass can leave a bad cut is ridiculous. Yes, it can. I've seen it.

07/22/12 @ 22:21
Comment from: Bakaiya [Visitor]

@Rich, Rich

I wrote a long post and then the site ate it. Alas.

I don't think the claim it is dangerous is universally true, nor relevant, and yet it is always used against barefooters. My point is that if you do not want to go barefoot, fine, I have no intention to make you: but don't go around telling people it is dangerous when you do not even do it. That kind of thing is used against us who do want to go barefoot constantly. It is even worse when it comes from people on a site like this. I am sorry, but I have to take it personally whenever someone is repeating something untrue that affects me personally to such a degree.

It's not a difference of opinion: it's people making hurtful claims without proper basis or consideration for others. Again, you would not like it if people forbade you to wear minimalist shoes because they were too "dangerous," and we already know this happens: don't give people an excuse to do that to others. It's just not polite or sensible. Even if you have no intention to go barefoot, it very well might end up hitting you one of these days when you get thrown out of somewhere for your minimalist shoes. Then you'll know how we feel and why I take this kind of thing personally.

07/24/12 @ 17:45
Comment from: Rich [Visitor]

@ Bakaiya: It baffles me that you can think it's "untrue" that glass can cut bare feet, but I can see that this is an ideology in which you're heavily invested, so I'm going to end this conversation here, as it's clearly not going anywhere productive. Safe barefooting and happy trails.

07/24/12 @ 22:56
Comment from: Andy Brundrett [Visitor]  
Andy Brundrett

Bakaiya, I didn't read all the comments but had read the post (awhile back). I thought any questions were whether flip-flops could be dangerous, not whether barefoot is dangerous. maybe I missed something. And frankly, I wear VFF all the time and we also get people who are not open minded wanting to ban them because they offer no protection (if I drop a table on my foot there is no difference if I'm wearing a sneaker or a VFF shoe). So I kind of understand.
I ride motorcycles and am told all the time by (what I consider to be) ignorant people that I am dangerous, going to get killed, how could I do something so dangerous? I hear that all the time and I wear more protective gear than most. Don't worry. I follow Rule #1: People Suck (okay, tongue in cheek, not entirely serious there).
Enjoy your barefooting! Cheers, AndyB, NH.
PS I don't like flip flops because I tend to trip in them. Too floppy for me but that is me.

07/24/12 @ 23:18
Comment from: lowwall [Visitor]

"A zero drop Croc flip flop that doesn't require toe grab would be my ideal choice."

Try the Vivobarefoot Ultra Pure. Other than requiring take one hand to put on (elastic laces), they are just as convenient and comfortable as flip-flops and have none of the drawbacks. Only potential problem is $50 price.

07/25/12 @ 20:33
Comment from: Mike Parker [Visitor]  
Mike Parker

This post is spot-on. Great job!

I've never worn flip-flops in my whole life because they also seemed so awkward with the pinching motion. Some people think they can run well in them, but they obviously can't use healthy biomechanics and they are just ignorant of the whole topic. I'm barefoot 95% of the time and otherwise I wear invisible shoes huaraches, which have been my exclusive footwear for almost two years.

07/29/12 @ 16:14
Comment from: M Cooper [Visitor]
M Cooper

Definitely they're cheap so you see them in the tropics like the Caribbean & Africa a lot.

In some places like Japan, China, etc. people have a habit of removing their shoes when they're at home and put on house slippers. Flip-flops are often worn as slippers. Wearing shoes that cover your feet all day is not good. You need to let your feet breath once in a while. They're good alternatives to wearing sandals.

10/24/12 @ 16:30
Comment from: Arelis [Visitor]

For me its all about appropiate time & ocassion, being wise on how long, when and where to be barefoot or wear any kind of shoes

11/09/12 @ 05:13
Comment from: TAMMY [Visitor]

Flip-flop sandals are among my favorite shoes to wear. I wear flip-flops almost all the time from Early March to Mid to late November. I also love wearing my mid to high heel sandals for dates and formal events. I only wear sneakers for exercising or walkling long distances. Closed toe shoes/heels I don't care for because I find them constricting on my feet. My only winter shoe is sneakers. Boots/Uggs/Closed Toe heels are not for me. I like to show off my painted toe nails/pedicure as much as possible.

01/04/13 @ 10:24
Comment from: GG [Visitor]

Nasty, horrible, utterly disgusting and painful excuses for footwear. I refuse to wear them, will not buy them for my children, and fail to see the appeal in them as most people that wear them have ugly or deformed feet. When I wear real sandals or something that is more open than my sneakers, it has to have straps that go over my feet and around the lower part of my leg. Not crazy about getting blisters between my toes. You can't truly run in them, and they are prone to breaking and causing injuries. Does anyone remember the reports of people having allergic reactions to ones made in China, causing skin problems.

03/01/13 @ 00:31
Comment from: Dino Guy [Visitor]
Dino Guy

In my opinion, flip-flops are very minimalist, and are the closest you can be to being completely barefoot while still being allowed to enter a restaurant. My cheap rubber flip-flops actually feel much more barefoot to me than my pair of KSOs. I have also found that the toe gripping problem exists only if the flip-flops are too loose for you, or if you strike the ground really hard with your heels while walking in them. If your pair of flip-flops fit snugly enough, and you walk properly in them, it is just like being completely barefoot.

05/29/13 @ 20:45
Comment from: Dino Guy [Visitor]
Dino Guy

You see, the reason why many people have to scrunch their toes to hold on to their flip-flops is because their flip-flops are too loose. Flip-flops secure your foot to the sole by tightly hugging the top of your foot with the straps. If the flip-flops are relatively high-quality and are just the right size, they can be one of the most barefoot minimalist footwear you can ever wear.

05/31/13 @ 18:07

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