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The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

Posted September 11, 2009 12:00 AM by Jaxy

Go into any store and there is likely to be a section dedicated to flip-flops. They come in all colors, sizes, and price ranges; but, there is a reason that this footwear tends to be so cheap - other than the obvious lack of material holding it together.

Flip-Flops Changes the Way You Walk

It has been proven that wearing flip-flops often changes your gait, which can eventually lead to serious foot problems in the future. Observation of flip-flop wearers shows that they scrunch their toes to keep the flimsy thing on their feet while their foot is airborne. Forcing the flip-flop to stay on results in the stretching of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that runs from the heel to the toe; this stretching leads to feet fatigue and inflammation.

What Gets On Flip-Flops?!

The University of Miami did some testing on footwear and discovered that flip-flops were harboring more than 18,000 bacteria per flip-flop. All types of bacteria were present, ranging from microorganisms found in fecal matter to skin and respiratory germs. They even found one pair of flip-flops that had yeast infection and diaper rash bacteria that had been accumulated in six years.

Even worse than knowing that the flip-flops you possessed have gone through feces, urine, spit, and vomit, is the presence of a potentially lethal germ called Staphylococcus aureus. This is especially dangerous if you harbor open cuts or blisters on your feet. Staphylococcus aureus can cause a serious infection or it could harbor toxins that can make you very sick or kill you.

They also followed two pairs of flip-flops. One went through bars, parks, and subways. The other merely went through the public restroom in the Coney Island subway station. The flip-flops emerging from the restroom had 13,900 more bacteria than the other pair.

In Part 2 of the series, we will examine how to reduce the risks associated with flip-flops. I am left with the looming question of whether I should ditch my flip-flops for sandals. Are you convinced to ditch flip-flops or use them less often? Or are you just convinced never to use public restrooms again?

Resources:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32453516/ns/today-today_health/

http://www.livescience.com/health/080624-bad-flip-flops.html

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#1

Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 8:19 AM

Anyone emerging from the restroom at the Coney Island subway station is bound to leave with more vectors than they entered with.

Does anyone remember the Dr. Scholls footwear of yore? They might still make 'em, I don't know. With the wooden soles shaped to fit the foot? They were touted as having some sort of massaging, health benefit, and one also had to scrunch toes to keep them on. I wonder if these were/are also detrimental to the plantar fascia. Jaxy, do you know anything about these? I still have an old pair......

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#5
In reply to #1

Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 12:17 PM

I am sorry, I haven't heard anything about them. If you find anything about them, you should definitely post the link!

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#6
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Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 12:24 PM
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#7
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Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 12:35 PM

That's them! O joy! Wait! They make heels now? feh. But thanks for confirming their continued existence, Mello!

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#2

Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 10:01 AM

The reason why flip-flops are cheap is because they are often low-quality. Basically, most people are wearing $3 piece of foam of their feet, so I don't think its surprising that this type of footwear would attract germs - or any type of footwear for that matter. As Sue pointed out, going into a Coney Island bathroom (or any public bathroom) means that you're going to pick-up something.

Personally, I am birkenstocks person -although I do wear flip-flops occasionally. When I am at home, I'm a going barefoot kind of person. Yes, it's dirty, but human beings have been dirty for way longer than we've been sanitized and germ-sensitive.

In regards to the gait issue, I do think that its good to know of the risks associated with wearing certain things. However, I doubt that most people wear flip-flops as their primary shoe all year. I'd be curious to know what a lifetime of wearing high-heeled shoes would do to you in comparison.

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#3
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Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 10:28 AM

I also enjoy going barefoot and am definitely not a fan of high-heels. I've read that constant, day-in and day-out walking in high-heels shortens the gastrocnemius, or calf muscle, because of the positioning of the foot and the forward/upward slant in which the body is placed. Obviously torture devices invented by the other gender...

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#4

Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 12:11 PM

I read the flip flop health report the other day and I couldn't help but think, "well this is dumb-- ANY type of footwear is going to have those kind of germs all over the bottom of them!" Perhaps if they had included different kinds of shoes in their experiment and it showed that flipflops had more bacteria than other types of shoes I would have given it more merit.

Perhaps the study was supposed to show that with flipflops the germs are more apt to reach your bare feet? Of course, this would also be true of sandals and any open-toed shoe.

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#8
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Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 1:49 PM

I have to agree with Mello completely. No matter what type of foot ware you wear, the ground you walk on is full of all kinds of nasty bacteria. Animal and human waste abounds. The Islamic ritual of removing shoes and bathing feet before entering a mosque makes a lot of sense. The Japanese remove their shoes outside which helps, but I question how much bacteria is still tracked into the house. Household pets is a good source of harmful bacteria in the home.

Flip-flops are cheap obviously because they are just simple pieces of plastic with something to hold them on to your foot.

According to Wikipedia, modern flip-flops were invented by a man in New Zealand and were inspired by the Japanese sandal. I believe their first use in the U.S. was as shower thongs and rapidly spread as foot ware due to their low cost.

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#9
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Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 1:49 PM

feces, urine, spit, and vomit, lethal germ called Staphylococcus aureus.

I can accept that these germs are going to be all over the bottom of our shoes. But the thought of them actually on my feet or being transmitted to my foot, is not a nice thought.

Though I don't imagine you can pick these germs up on the bottom of your shoe and transmit them through the sole of a shoe, sock and to your barefoot.

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#10
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Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 6:57 PM

I agree. These things on the bottom of shoes versus flip-flops is a big difference. It must be much easier to transport to the foot via flip-flops. And since flip-flops don't really protect your feet at all, it is much easier to cut your feet and that will make the risks even greater. Although Mello pointed out that open sandals can't be much better than flip-flops.

And the risks go much farther than that. There is zero (0) arch support, which can change the way you walk. Although they are only worn seasonly, I know that I walk tons more in the summer than in the winter. This means that the mileage of my summer footwear is probably much higher than the mileage in my winter footwear. Plus flip-flop blisters when you first start wearing them again hurt!

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#15
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Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/12/2009 5:33 PM

Yeah. GA. The text mentioned that a pair of flip flops had bacteria that has built over six years. Come on, be serious: the shoe is not that complex or hard to clean. This means that someone has used the same shoe over six years without even washing it and let to dry eventually? Hahahahahahahahaha! I bet he or she will have much more problems regarding diseases than the ones in the sandails...

And how about women footwear like heeled sandails? The better of two worlds: feet unprotected and with the risks of the heels?

As always, just use the right shoe for the right occasion. No one should use flip flops for long walks or runs of course.

And do not forget to wash it eventually.

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#17
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Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/14/2009 2:58 AM

Yes: and, I know it's potentially very dangerous, but, since most of us carry Staphylococcus aureus up our noses: I don't think that having it on our shoes should be too much of an additional worry.

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#11

Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/11/2009 8:14 PM

Even worse, regardless of the type of footware, after walking in filth, you track it into your homes and deposit it on your carpets. You may be walking barefoot on that same carpet and small children can be playing on it. Carpets are probably the most germ ridden item around. It's enough to make a person paranoid.

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#12

Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/12/2009 4:16 AM

18,000 bacteria per flip flop is positively sterile. Check the figures. 18,000 bacteria per square centimeter would be low.

"About 15-40 per cent of healthy humans are carriers of S. aureus, that is, they have the bacteria on their skin without any active infection or disease (colonisation). The carrier sites are usually the nostrils and fexures, where the bacteria may be found intermittently or every time they are looked for." New Zealand Dermatological site

here is the figures for human skimn against those for flip flops

The numbers of bacterial cells typically found on the skin varies between different body sites, but can range from a few hundred cells per cm2 on the fingertips to several million per cm2 on moist areas such as the forehead.

As you can see it is safer to kiss the sole of a flip flop than a baby's forehead.

Statistics, doncha love 'em.

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#13
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Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/12/2009 6:48 AM

Ahhh, perspective! That sweet perspective! The thing that separates science from scare!

So much of that missing in many debates nowadays!

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#14

Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/12/2009 1:10 PM

And I thought you were referring to J-K flip-flops!

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#19
In reply to #14

Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/14/2009 4:55 PM

... and "D" as in Ditto. This is an "Engineering" forum, after all, isn't it?

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#16

Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/13/2009 12:27 AM

Scrunching the toes is unnecessary if one doesn't fling their foot out. There is a knack to it, walking with foot relaxed, better with higher quality flops than the plastic ones. Need the one to one and a half inch thick soles and nylon web loops instead. I wore these exclusively for years when living in Honolulu

They came with rainbow colored layers when viewed from the edge, take them into the shower and scrub'em too

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#18

Re: The Reason Why Flip-Flops Are So Cheap (Part 1)

09/14/2009 7:45 AM

They also followed two pairs of flip-flops. One went through bars, parks, and subways. The other merely went through the public restroom in the Coney Island subway station. The flip-flops emerging from the restroom had 13,900 more bacteria than the other pair.

I guess next time I go to the bar I'll have to go bare foot. I don't want that many germs on my flip-flops.

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