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Expert: Flip-flops should not be worn on pavement

On the unforgiving pavement, wearing flip flops can

On the unforgiving pavement, wearing flip flops can result in twisted ankles. Credit: iStock

I've heard flip-flops can cause injuries, but kids wear them all summer. How can parents make them as safe as possible?

Flip-flops are functional for use around the pool but ideally shouldn't be worn on pavement, says Dr. Melissa Leber, assistant professor of orthopedics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. And they certainly shouldn't be worn playing sports. "No one should be running in flip-flops. Nothing faster than a walk," she says.

In general, flip-flops offer little support, which can lead to twisted ankles, she says. In toddlers or growing children, a turned ankle can cause a mild fracture, because kids have weaker bones and growth plates. Leber says she sees patients who fall on stairs and trip on curbs. That can cause lacerations and abrasions to other parts of the body -- for instance, the knees -- in addition to causing broken toes and damaged toenails.

While some padding on the bottom of the flip-flop is beneficial, wedge flip-flops are more dangerous than level ones, she says. "If you hit a small bump in the road, you are going to turn the ankle that much more from a higher height," she says.

When wearing flip-flops, kids should be sure to apply sunscreen to the feet to avoid sunburn. They also should consider insect repellent. "The more exposed skin you have, the more risk you have for any type of bug bite, such as mosquitoes or ticks," Leber says.

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