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What are Orthopedic Sandals?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
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Orthopedic sandals are a type of footwear that is both functional and supportive of the feet while remaining stylish and attractive with different outfits. As with any other type of sandal, orthopedic sandals leave most or part of the foot open, and are popular to wear in the summer and warmer months. This type of shoes will also feature a supportive insole to cushion the arch of the feet and offer more support for the legs and back, helping to prevent pain.

At one time, orthopedic shoes were nearly universally clunky and unattractive. Now, different styles of orthopedic shoes, and orthopedic sandals in particular, are much more stylish and available in different designs and colors, so people are more inclined to wear them as everyday shoes. It is often not even possible to tell that the shoes are orthopedic at all; they might just look like regular shoes, albeit with thicker soles.

There are a few different types of orthopedic sandals. These include flip-flops, which are still not very good for the feet because of the way in which the toes must grip the sandal to keep it on the foot. However, orthopedic flip-flops are preferable to flat flip-flops, which tend to stretch the tendons of the feet, leading to pain or even damage. In addition, orthopedic sandals may be available in slides or versions with straps for a more stylish look.

Though most orthopedic sandals are flats, some may also feature low heels. Orthopedic shoes will typically never have high heels, because these tend to put the spine in an uncomfortable, unnatural position, but a low heel can be comfortable for some people. It is still best to try on the shoes first to make sure that they fit well and are comfortable, as well as supportive of the bottoms of the feet. The shoes should allow the wearer to stay in a neutral posture, with a slight curve in the lower back, but without tipping the pelvis forward.

Orthopedic sandals may be purchased in stores or online, though a greater selection can often be found online. A salesperson in a shoe store may be able to provide better advice on which shoes to choose, however, and also to offer the benefit of being able to try the shoes on without paying for shipping. Some people have different pairs of sandals for different occasions, which can make it easier to find a stylish pair of shoes when needed.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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