Most people don’t associate flip flops with arch support since many flip flops are designed to be worn while lounging, not walking. But, as the popularity of the flip flop grows, so does the need for something more supportive than the cheap, plastic, flimsy things you see at the pool. To meet this demand, manufacturers are making flip flops with arch support for all types of feet. Finding a pair compatible with your arches will make a huge difference in your comfort level.
What is the purpose of the arch of your foot?
The arch of your foot is made of soft tissues with elastic properties that act as a spring to absorb shock when you walk or run. The elasticity of these soft tissues reduces damage and wear to the musculoskeletal system by spreading impacts to your foot over a longer period of time. The tissues can also store the energy absorbed during the impact of a step to use in the next step to reduce the toll of walking.
When walking or running, your foot makes an inward rolling motion at the joint just below the ankle as the arch of the foot elongates and flattens. This inward rolling motion is called pronation and is your body’s response to the ground forces impacting your foot during movement. Depending on the type of arch you have, your foot will pronate differently.
There are three types of arches:
1. Low Arch (or flat footed) causes over-pronation. All of the force is put on the big toe and the second toe, making it difficult for the ankle and foot to steady the body.
2. Neutral Arch (or medium) causes neutral pronation. The force distributes fairly evenly among the toes, with a little more pressure on the big and second toes.
3. High Arch (or cavus foot) causes under-pronation, or supination. The foot rolls outward, putting all of the force on the outer toes.
To find out what type of arch you have, take this simple “wet” test. Go ahead. I’ll wait here.
So, now that you have an idea about what type of arch you have…
What type of flip flops do you need?
Your arch is more flexible and your foot tends to roll more inward than people with neutral or high arches (Over-pronation). You are more susceptible to arch pain, heel pain (such as plantar fasciitis), knee pain, back pain and shin splints. As your feet roll further inward, your body alignment is thrown out of whack.
Since your arch is low or falling, it needs support to raise it enough to take some of the stress off your inner foot and distribute it more evenly to the rest of your foot. However, too much arch support can cause you further discomfort or pain by jamming your low arch too high.
Recommendations for flip flops for low arches based on customer reviews:
FitFlop Women’s Rokkit Flip Flops
The Rokkit Flip Flop is advertised as a shoe that helps tone your legs as you walk. However, the best thing about this shimmery flip flop is how much reviewers felt relief from pains caused by plantar fasciitis and back problems. The Rokkit is comfortable on all three arch types, but I would recommend it to someone looking for a flip flop with medium to high arch support.
Price Range: $60.00 – $100.00
Buy Them Here
Orthaheel Women’s/Men’s Wave Sandal
Orthaheel designed the Wave sandal specifically for flat feet and over pronation. The footbed has a deep heel cup that Orthaheel claims will realign and stabilize the body and the midsole is made to absorb shock and reduce pain in the knees, ankles and feet. According to reviews, they do exactly that. The footbed on the Orthaheel Wave flip flops are harder than one might expect, but many reviewers found quite a bit of relief from foot pain while wearing them.
Price Range: $35.00 – $65.00
Skechers Men’s Fray Cotton Thongs
Skecher’s Men’s Fray Cotton Thong has a cushioned footbed that molds to your foot over time. Reviewers loved the comfort they provide, as well as the laid back style of the frayed cotton straps and foam footbed. The textured, rubber outsole provides grip on all kinds of surfaces. If you are looking for a little arch support and a lot of comfort, then the Skecher’s Men’s Fray Cotton Thong is a good choice.
Price Range: $27.00 – $33.00
Crocs Men’s Yukon Flip Flops
The Yukon flip flops have a massaging nub footbed and a midsole that molds to your foot. Like other footwear from Crocs, reviewers loved the comfort and support these provide. But, unlike a lot of other footwear from Crocs, these are stylish, with leather straps and toe piece. They provide just the right amount of support for someone with a low arch that feels best with a low or medium amount of arch support.
Price Range: $33.00 – $40.00
You have NEUTRAL arches:
You have a normal amount of pronation, meaning the stress of walking or running is distributed evenly throughout your foot. You probably don’t feel much pain in your arches, knees or shins. However, you may have pain in your heel and the ball of your foot as your toes take the impact of walking.
With a neutral arch, you probably don’t need much support, if any at all. You can probably wear most shoes without having foot, leg or back pain. However, if you do have some pain in your arches or knees, I would recommend flip flops with minimal arch support. Too much support will cause further discomfort and no support at all can cause further misalignment of your body and new pains.
Recommendations for flip flops for neutral arches based on customer reviews:
These flip flops have a footbed made out of the same material as yoga mats so they are really comfortable. This material allows the flip flops to form around your foot, but bounce back to shape after wear. (One drawback: they absorb water, so wear with caution in wet conditions.) They also provide no arch support. So Sanuk’s Mat flip flops are perfect for someone who doesn’t want arch support but wants a super comfy and cute pair of flip flops with great customer reviews.
Price Range: $32.00 – $51.00
Havaianas Slim flip flops are thin, the rubber heel measuring 1/2″, but reviewers say they are really comfortable and durable. They have a shock absorbing midsole and thin rubber straps. The Slip flip flop comes in a variety of colors, perfect for casual summer wear. They are a good choice for someone looking for a light weight, neutral arched flip flop that isn’t flimsy and cheaply made.
Average Price: $25.00
Like the Women’s Yoga Mat flip flop, the Sanuk’s Men’s Beer Cozy flip flops are also made from yoga mats, providing a ton of comfort. They form to your foot snuggly, like a beer cozy, but don’t lose their shape. (They also absorb water, so wear with caution in wet conditions.) They are a great pair of flip flops if you are looking for a flat footbed with a lot of comfort and style.
Price Range: $19.00 – $55.00
You have HIGH arches:
Your arch is rigid, so your foot tends to roll outward when you walk, causing supination. Since your arch does not hit the ground when you walk, there is less surface area on your foot to absorb the impact. So, your outer toes and the rear of your foot (your forefoot) take the brunt of the force while you walk. This can cause plantar fasciitis and pain in your heel and the ball of your foot.
To take the pressure off of your outer toes, you may need a lot of arch support. Basically, you are trying to fill some of the void left by your high arch – if your arch has something to rest on and support it, it will take some of the impact. This will help redistribute the force of the impact throughout your whole foot, relieving some of the pressure on your outer toes and forefoot.
Recommendations for flip flops for high arches based on customer reviews:
OluKai ‘Ohana Women’s Flip Flops and Olukai ‘Ohana Men’s Flip Flops
OluKai’s ‘Ohana flip flops were designed with the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association and are worn by all of their members. They are great in water, have a textured sole that grips all types of surfaces and are comfortable and supportive enough for all day wear. Many reviewers said they felt relief from pains caused by arthritis and plantar fasciitis. The footbed is aimed at someone who has a high arch and is in need of a lot of support. The arch is so high in these, that someone with a flat or neutral arch would probably find them uncomfortable.
Price Range: $45.00 – $110.00
Merrell Women’s Hollyleaf
Hollyleaf flip flop has a uniquely designed toe strap that wraps around the big toe, keeping your foot in place (and looking cute). Reviewers raved about the pain relief these flip flops provide, especially after surgery or an injury. The heel has an air cushion that absorbs shock and a high arch that provides support, easing heel pain for many reviewers. Merrell’s Hollyleaf Sandal is ideal for someone looking for a lot of arch support, comfort and style.
Price Range: $50.00 – $90.00
Reef Men’s Fanning Sandal
The Fanning flip flop by Reef is sporty looking and comes in a variety of color combinations. It also boasts a hidden bottle opener built into the rubber sole and quick drying faux leather straps. But, the best features on these flip flops are the great arch support and air cushioned heel. Many reviewers said the footbed helped ease their heel pain and support their high arches. Reviewers also said the Fanning flip flops felt comfortable during long periods of walking. Overall, these are a great choice for an active flip flop wearer looking for a high arch and an end to heel pain.
Price Range: $25.00 – $105.00Buy Them Here
Reef Mens Arch-2 Sandal
Reef has created a flip flop with an adjustable arch! The Arch – 2 comes with a fin key that you insert into a port on the inner sole that you can use to adjust the amount of arch support the flip flop provides. The footbed has a honeycomb texture that grips your foot to keep it from sliding around. Reviewers with every type of arch raved about the support they felt while wearing these. I would recommend these to someone unsure of the type of support they want because they can experiment until they find a good match.
Price Range: $50.00 – $65.00
Montrail Women’s Molokini Flip Flops and Montrail Men’s Molokai Flip Flops
The Montrail Molokai and Molokini flip flops have PRFRM thermo-moldable footbeds that mold to your foot after you heat them in the oven. It may sound a little strange, but reviewers love how supportive, comfortable and, of course, well fitting these flip flops are. They have a reinforced outsole that helps with traction and comfort on rough terrain. Montrail is a running shoe company, so these flip flops are designed for comfort during long periods of wear indoors and out.
Price Range: $30.00 – $65.00
Do you have a favorite pair of flip flops that make your feet feel fabulous? Let me know in the comments!