It's official: Summer 2016 is the season of slides. They're chic and they're effortless, both in wear and in aesthetic. Unfortunately, slides also happen to be the worst sandal type for your feet. Podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal first alerted us to this fun little fact last summer when she pointed out how unhealthy flip-flops are: "Since they're not attached to the foot, your toes grip onto them when you move, which changes the way you walk." The healthy sandals? The ones that lock around the ankle.
As logic would dictate, the same theory-slash-medical diagnosis would apply to slides, because, let's be honest, they're essentially a chicer version of flip-flops. We called up Splichal, who confirmed it and went on to add that they also "pose the risk of instability or missteps leading to foot injury." Um, yikes. Not even orthopedic-approved sandals, like Birkenstocks, are exempt from these alarming circumstances.
But if you're not one to be deterred from something like a silly injury, it's at least beneficial to know which slides you should wear and which to avoid. Not all of them are cut from the same cloth, so to speak. We gave Splichal a list of different backless styles, from Adidas shower slides to Gucci's loafer slides, and she ranked them from the "healthiest" (as in, the lesser of the evils) to the unhealthiest (just plain evil). Scroll through to see which styles fall where in order of healthiness.
1. Healthiest: Birkenstock-Like Sandals
"Even though there's a lack of foot security, Birkenstocks ($130; zappos.com) at least have built-in arch support," Splichal says. "Birkenstocks are also made out of cork, which is a resilient material that helps to lessen the stressful impact of walking on concrete. Plus, these ones have double straps, which gives more stability."
2. Dr. Scholls Single-Strap Wood Clog
"You need to look for a slight heel—anything too flat is bad for your feet," she says. "This Dr. Scholls one ($98; jcrew.com) is ranked up there, because there's that slight heel and little arch, which takes the stress off the foot when you're walking all day."
3. Single-Strap Flatform
"These ones are very similar to the Dr. Scholl's—it has the same lift, but not as much of an arch, which is why it's lower ranked," Splichal explains.
4. Stacked-Heel Mules
"The chunky heel on these Gucci mules ($595; gucci.com) makes up for the lack of stability, but my concern is that there isn't a lot of space for the toes, which can build pressure and cause pain," Splichal says. "I like the single sole on this style. Contrary to popular belief, platforms are not better for your feet—they put too much distance between your foot and the ground, which makes the shoe less stable. You want to be close to the ground, without sacrificing arch support."
5. Flat Sandal with Fabric Strap
"Standing on something totally flat can create heel pain," Splichal says. "This one has a tiny heel, which is better than nothing, but it's still too flat. I ranked this higher than others because the strap is made from a softer material, making it more flexible for movement. The placement, too, of the strap is in an ideal location, because it doesn't obstruct the foot bend." Shop a similar style: Brother Vellies, $285; brothervellies.com
7. Flat Wide-Strap Slides
"These two styles are tied—even though they both have wide straps (it makes no difference that one is double and the other is criss-cross) that help secure the foot, they're both very flat sandals with no arch support, and that can really stress the foot," Splichal says.
8. Shower Slides
"Unlike Birkenstocks or Dr. Scholls, shower slides like Adidas and Puma, are made of rubber, which is neither resilient nor strong," she says. "Even if there is 'arch support,' the rubber bottoms out anyway when you walk, so it doesn't do anything."
9. Unhealthiest: Stiletto-Heel Mules
"Slides and mules are already unstable because they're not secured on the foot," Splichal says. "When you have that skinny of a stiletto heel, it makes you very unstable. Always choose a chunkier heel over a skinny one."