Flip-flops, once relegated to gym locker rooms, the beach, and poolside areas, are showing up on summertime feet everywhere these days. But most of these thin-soled rubbery sandals do little to support your foot—especially at the arch. And that lack of support can cause a painful condition known as plantar fasciitis.  

Plantar Fasciitis: A Pain the Heel

Wearing flip-flops regularly can stretch and strain the fascia, a sheet of tissue that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. That can cause heel pain, which can be severe, especially as you take your first steps out of bed in the morning or when walking for an extended period of time. Over time, you may even develop a heel spur—a painful calcium deposit that can form if plantar fasciitis goes untreated. 

Other Footwear That Causes Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis, which is the most common cause of heel pain, can also crop up in those who wear other types of thin-soled footwear such as ballet flats. The reason? The lack of proper cushioning can inflame the area under the balls of your feet.  

Coping With Plantar Fasciitis

Usually rest, stretching, and strength-training exercises for your feet, and temporarily wearing a drugstore shoe insert that cushions your heels will ease the pain. (If you find the heel cushions comfortable, you may opt to wear them long-term).  

You should also skip the flip-flops and opt instead for supportive shoes with thick soles that cushion the bottoms of your feet. This protects the fascia under your heel from damage when your foot strikes the ground with each step.  

When It's Not Plantar Fasciitis

While plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, the discomfort can have other causes. For example, stepping on a stone or other hard object can bruise the fat pad under your heel. Pain behind your heel could result from an inflamed Achilles tendon—often caused by doing a lot of running or walking. High heels can also cause heel problems by shortening the Achilles tendon, which connects your heel bones to your calf muscles. Stretches, the heel insert mentioned above, supportive shoes, and intermittently icing the painful tendon can ease this ache.