10 Best Flip-Flops with Arch Support, According to Podiatrists
Yes, you can wear flip-flops—as long as you follow foot doctors' advice. These options with arch support can even be good for your feet—here are the top picks for a supportive and comfortable pair.
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What you need to know about wearing flip-flops
Flip-flops are Americans’ go-to footwear of choice on hot and humid summer days because they’re easy to slip on, comfortable, and they keep your feet cool. However, foot experts caution that they aren’t the best choice when it comes to keeping your feet healthy. “Walking with flip-flops for prolonged periods of time allows our foot to collapse, impacting our gait and posture, which can lead to a tremendous amount of stress not only to the foot but to the rest of the body,” says board-certified podiatric surgeon Miguel Cunha, founder of Gotham Footcare in New York City. “This imbalance may increase the progression of underlying foot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes and lead to painful conditions like plantar fasciitis, arch and heel pain, shin splints, and Achilles tendonitis.” (Here are five other ways you might be putting your feet at risk.)
What to look for in supportive flip-flops
Fortunately, there are shoe brands working hard to create flip-flops that provide foot support and combat these issues. “In a slide, thong, or any other open silhouette, look for a thicker sole which is slightly higher in the back than the front,” says Jackie Sutera, a podiatrist with the Innovation Lab at Vionic Shoes. “A thicker overall sole is best and is preferable to one that’s totally flat. Starting with the sole, arch support—that little bump in the center of the insole—will help you maintain better alignment. It’s all about keeping your foot as neutral as possible.”
Tip: “Check the soles for wear and replace often,” Dr. Sutera suggests. “If the tread is smoothed out or uneven, your flip-flops should be replaced.” Read on for ten expert-approved picks that will offer your feet maximum support this summer. (Also, be sure to check out the best slippers for your feet.)
Birkenstock Gizeh Birko-Flor
“The Birkenstock Gizeh flip-flops are modeled on the cork sandal and their footbed will offer the same comfort and arch support you would expect from Birkenstocks,” says Dr. Cunha. “These flip-flops are also ultra-lightweight, highly flexible, shock-absorbent, waterproof, and skin-friendly.” With nearly 2,000 online reviewers raving about their excellent arch support, these stylish sandals come in 12 different colors and are perfect for a casual day or a summer night out.
Chaco Maya II
“Leather is usually a good option for flip-flops since there are fewer chances for irritation and blisters,” says podiatric physician and surgeon Rebecca Pruthi, owner of Foot Care of Manhattan, in New York. These stylish Chaco sandals, which have earned the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance, feature a full-grain leather upper and cushioned leather footbed.
Another of Dr. Cunha’s favorite brands which also boasts the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance, these Aetrex flip-flops are made with a patented orthotic system to maintain foot alignment and prevent foot pain, plus a soft foam sole and contoured footbed for maximum comfort. “Slingbacks are great because they have some heel height and provide additional ankle support,” adds Dr. Cunha.
Sanuk Beer Cozy
“If you have high or low arches, you want to look for moldable flip-flops,” says Dr. Pruthi, who recommends these Sanuk sandals. Made from yoga mats, they will mold to your feet and maintain their shape after wearing for a personalized, non-slip fit. “Best flip-flops ever,” raves one online reviewer. “The strap part is comfortable and the bottom cushion feels like you’re walking on marshmallows. Simply amazing.” (For more comfort, check out the best slip-on sneakers for your feet.)
Vionic Bella II
“These flip-flops are lightweight and have a flexible EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) footbed which absorbs shock, reducing stress on feet, ankles, and knees,” says Dr. Cunha (who has no professional connection to the brand). “These flip-flops also have the Seal of Acceptance by the American Podiatric Medical Association.” The 1¼-inch heel helps maintain foot alignment and comfort while the small bow and the 10 color variations mean they will go with any outfit.
Nike Benassi Duo Ultra Slide
“Another strap design that gives support is the Nike Benassi Ultra slide,” says Dr. Pruthi. “These shoes provide both traction and support.” The key: Two soft synthetic straps and a memory foam footbed. “It’s smart to look for thicker straps,” agrees Dr. Sutera. “The more straps the better because they’ll hold the foot in better.”
The footbed of these Naot flip-flops conforms to the bottom of the foot, getting more comfortable with every wear. “A large leather strap on the top of the foot across the ankle will offer much more stability than other styles,” adds Dr. Pruthi, of how this shoe prevents the foot from rolling in or out and causing pain. (Check out why you should never wear shoes without socks.)
Clarks Breeze Sea
Over 1,500 five-star reviews don’t lie: These Clarks flip-flops feature a soft fabric lining and EVA-cushioned footbed to absorb shock and offer support for the arch and the heel. With 14 different color options ranging from beach-ready to restaurant-approved, you’ll get supportive sandals for every summer occasion.
FitFlop Surfer Freshweave
Another brand that’s a favorite of Dr. Cunha and has earned the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association, FitFlop sandals feature a sophisticated triple-density, inch-thick sole for ultimate comfort and support. “You want to make sure the sandal is not flimsy in the middle,” says Dr. Cunha. “If it bends easily than you are not getting adequate support in the arch and you will get foot pain.”
Water-resistant and quick-drying, these Olukai flip-flops boast 800 five-star reviews on Zappos. “I bought these last summer before a two-month backpacking trip and wore them all day, every day,” says one online reviewer. “I really appreciated how they are waterproof, making it easy to wash them, and if your feet start to sweat in the heat the footbed material keeps them from slipping around like normal flops do.” (Next, check out the best summer shoes that aren’t flip-flops.)