Shoes carry a strong motive and objective of protecting our feet in all conditions. But as a single type of shoe can’t possibly fulfil all the necessities, we came up with varying shoe styles and designs.
Two of the most common footwear styles are flip-flops and sandals. They excel not only in terms of comfort but also support and adjustability. However, these terms are often used interchangeably, even though there are significant differences between the two. Despite both the type falling on the casual side of footwear, certain features make them everybody’s favourite!
What are Flip Flops?
Flip-flops are a type of casual footwear that have worldwide usage, dating back to 1500 B.C.
The word “flip-flop” is derived from the sound resulting while walking in them. However, it has different names in different countries. For example, it is known as thongs or pluggers in Australia, jandals in New Zealand slops in South Africa, step-in in the Philippines, and slippers in Jamaica and Bahamas.
They became a common sight in the United States of America post World War II. The soldiers brought it back from Japan and were often used as summer footwear for all genders.
People consider flip-flops to be a modern invention, but it has been around for centuries.
Flip-flops date back to 4000 B.C., proof being in the Egyptian murals. Moreover, a pair of flip-flops made from papyrus leaf dating back to 1500 B.C. is kept on display in the British Museum.
Flip-flops comprise a flat sole that is based on the foot with a Y-shaped strap. Such a strap is also known as a toe thong that passes through between the first and second toe. It also moves along the feet’ sides.
Some flip-flops are also known as sliders when there is a rigid base with a strap over all the toes in question.
What are Sandals?
Sandals are a type of casual footwear that have made their way to the fashion industry in the name of “comfortable fashion.”
The first form of sandals is known to have originated from the Rock cave in Oregon. It is said to be around 10,000 years old.
“Sandals” is originated from a Greek word, “σάνδαλον: sándalon.” There were two types of slippers: one made from willow leaves, fibres, or twigs. This was worn by actors and philosophers. The other option was a boot sandal that has a riser platform from the middle of the leg. Typically, this was donned by horsemen. It had a thicker sole for more durability.
In ancient Greece, there were several straps on their sandals to fasten the foot. Generally, these were made with coloured leather. The soles had cattle skin construction for added layers.
In ancient Rome, the sandals had elaborated construction and designs.
The Biblical sandals were constructed with non-processed leather and dry grass. The strings were made of cheap materials. If the sandals were for someone wealthy or royalty, gems or silver beads would be used for decorating.
Sandals are open-foot shoes where the sole holds the wearer’s foot with a set of straps going around the ankles and over the instep.
The sole could have leather, rubber, wood, rope, or tatami construction. The foot could also be held with a narrow thong that passes through the first and second toe by a latchet or a sandal strap.
A sandal could also have a high or low heel or a heel strap.
Due to such an open construction, they are primarily worn in summers or humid conditions.
Moreover, they are also considered to be fashion statements. In case the wearer is suffering from any injury or on the brink of developing an athlete’s foot, they prefer wearing sandals.
Difference Between Flip-Flops and Sandals
Even though flip-flops and sandals are open-toed and mostly used casually, the following differences are prominent and can make a significant difference:
Sandals and flip-flops have varying materials. This directly affects the comfort levels and weight.
Flip-flops are made with plastic, foam, or rubber materials. This explains its lightweight structure. On the other hand, sandals are made with thick rubber, leather, or cork, making them a rigid and comparatively heavier option.
At the same time, the rigid materials make the sandals heavier and cumbersome to carry. You can easily pack up flip-flops for travelling, but the same might not be accurate for sandals.
As flip-flops are lightweight, they might not be as durable as sandals. They might not hold up on concrete surfaces, but you can wear them on the beaches.
A flip-flop has a Y-shaped strap that goes in between the first and the second toe. They have a straight sole.
Contrarily, sandals come in a variety of shapes. There could be a single strap going around your instep or more straps going over the insteps and around the ankle. They might or might not have heels.
Sandals could have heels, like a stiletto, chunky heel, kitten pump, etc. Such a variety is not seen in flip-flop options.
Flip-flops are not meant to be used on concrete surfaces as the construction might not hold up in such circumstances. Generally, they are used in environments like a beach or around the pool, or in the house.
As beaches have sand, the open-toe construction eliminates any possibility of sand or debris accumulation. Flip-flops are waterproof in nature, thereby trapping no moisture in their material.
As flip-flops have a strap going between the first two toes but no straps at the back, your feet are not entirely secured to the sole. They might come off with fast or rigorous foot movements.
It is not the same with sandals as a strap goes around the ankle, thereby securing the foot to the sole. They are more likely to stay firm, even in fast foot movements.
Lastly, as both have open construction, they have high breathability. You need not worry about getting your feet sweaty.
The difference between flip-flops and sandals when it comes to looks lies in the straps. Flip-flops have a strap going between the first toe and the second toe. No straps are going around the ankles.
When it comes to sandals, there are straps going over the instep as well as around the ankle. You get ankle support in sandals which is absent in flip-flops.
In other words, your feet will stay secured to the sole in sandals but might not have a secure fit in flip-flops.
Considering the comfort levels of both- sandals and flip-flops, people deem them to be interchangeable. However, if you are looking for something formal, flip-flops should be avoided at all costs.
Even if you don your flip-flops with beads and expensive material, they are casual footwear that won’t work on formal occasions. You can wear your flip-flops while running errands or going to the beach.
As sandals come in various designs, some might work for a formal occasion, while others might work for casual usage.
Strap and Sole
Both have a thin sole that is attached to a number of straps. Generally, flip-flops have a single strap that goes between the first two toes and connects to the sole. There are no straps for ankle support.
On the other hand, straps have two or more straps. One goes over the instep, and the other typically go around the ankle. Both have thin soles.
Are Flip-Flops Bad for your Feet?
As flip-flops do not offer any ankle support, people assume that they are harmful to the feet. But is it really that bad? Let’s find out.
Reasons why flip-flops can harm your feet:
Flip-flops should be avoided by people with flat feet
Flip-flops fail to provide any support to people with flat feet. It can cause ankle, feet, and leg pain. Moreover, as people wearing flip-flops take short steps while their heels touch the ground with less vertical force, it can cause long-term pain.
No Ankle Support
Generally, there are no straps around the ankle. Your foot is only attached to the sole with the Y-shaped straps between the toes. This leads to no ankle support and can potentially lead to ankle pain.
Comes off easily
As no straps are securing the ankle to the sole, flip-flops tend to come off easily with rigorous foot movements.
Constant contact with the ground
Even though flip-flops have an open-toe construction for a specific reason, they can cause injuries while walking on concrete.
The open-toe construction leaves the foot exposed, thereby increasing the possibility of injuries. As the sole is thin, sharp objects lying on the ground or floor can penetrate the footwear and poke your skin.
Prone to Sprains
Wearing flip-flops every day can put an immense amount of stress on the foot. As there is no arch or ankle support, it will be difficult for you to keep the foot straight at all times. This can cause ankle sprains.
Possibility of plantar fasciitis
As flip-flops lack arch support, your plantar might start to pull. This leads to its inflammation, causing plantar fasciitis. This is a serious disease that needs to be treated with the help of a medical professional.
Should People with Foot Problems Wear Sandals or Flip-Flops?
This is a question that troubles everybody- are flip-flops or sandals harmful to people suffering from foot problems?
Maybe. As flip-flops lack any kind of arch or ankle support, it can lead to a series of issues.
So, if you have any severe foot injury or you are prone to sprains, it is best to avoid wearing flip-flops for an extended period.
Flip-flops and sandals are some of the best types of footwear that you could find. They guarantee trust and deliver the same. If you wish to make a casual impression at a pool party, flip-flops are the best option.
On the other hand, if you are looking forward to making a formal impression at a meeting or a party, various sandals can help you in doing so. However, ensure that they fit well and you get the required comfort and support.
I am a registered professional nurse with experience of 10+ years under my belt. I graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Since then, I have been beneficial for various rehabilitative and critical medical situations. I work with Feetfitness.com Team with researching foot problems and assists them by providing my expertise in the best footwear for different medical conditions. I am also instrumental to the group by helping in test, compile, and present the best footwear for professionals & everyday uses