How Flip-Flops Can Ruin Your Feet
Ah, summer. Time to dig your flip-flops out of the closet and wear them at every opportunity.
Don’t. Flip-flops may be comfortable, fun and even chic – but the truth is, flip flops are bad for your feet and your posture, warns chiropractor Dr. Justin Scott of Stronglife Chiropractic in Lithia and Tampa Bay, Florida.
Oh, you can get away with wearing them for a few hours at the beach or the pool. But you shouldn’t do a lot of walking in them, or even standing for long periods of time.
Why do flip flops hurt my feet
Flip-flops offer no arch support, heel cushioning, or shock absorption, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association, and that can lead to overuse of tendons and muscles – not only in your feet, but also in hips, ankles, knees and back.
A study conducted by researchers at Auburn University found that wearing thong-style flip-flops can result in problems and pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back. According to the researchers, people alter their gait when walking in flip-flops. They take shorter steps, possibly because they have to grip the flip-flops with their toes, and their heels hit the ground with more force because there’s no cushioning in a flip-flop.
One big problem with flip-flops is the fact that you have to grip the shoe with your toes, making your toes work harder than other shoes demand.
That can lead to a variety of problems
- Hammertoe (when the knuckles of your toes bend)
- Bunions, which are bumps at the big toe joint.
- Metatarsalgia, an inflammation of the ball of the foot. That’s because you have to flex your toes down, driving the ball of your foot into the ground. Untreated, metatarsalgia can evolve into stress fractures of the metatarsal joints – and several weeks in a cast.
- Shin splints or repetitive strain injury.
Flip-flops also lack arch supports, which help keep your knees, heels and back aligned. Without that support, your joints try to compensate. That leads to overuse, and to injuries from Achilles tendonitis (injury to the tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone) to heel pain and pinched nerves in the back.
Then there’s your posture. Flip-flops are flat, so they don’t bend the way your bare foot does when walking. That alters biomechanics and affects your posture.
And because flip-flops are open shoes, they put you at greater risk for stubbed or broken toes, glass cuts, puncture wounds, or having a heavy object smash your foot.
But don’t decide you’re better off if you choose flip-flops with a chunky, cushy sole or a wedge style flip-flop. Your toes will cramp less from a cushy sole, but you’re more likely to roll your feet inward as you walk, once again shifting your gait. The dangers here are hip misalignment and lower back strain.
As for a wedge flip-flop, it combines the drawbacks of a standard flip-flop with that of wearing high heels, which strains your hamstrings and may cause an abnormal curvature of the lower spine.
If you refuse to give up your flip-flops, then chose a brand like Fit Flop, with a stiffer sole, an arch and a rocker bottom. And buy a new pair at least once a year, so you’re not wearing a pair that’s past its prime.
Better yet, choose a sandal. With its stiffer sole and straps that cross your foot, it will help distribute the pressure on your foot more evenly.
If you think your flip-flops might be causing aches and pains, consider a visit to Dr. Scott at Stronglife – Chiropractic in Lithia and Tampa Bay, Florida. Dr. Scott is an expert in Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP), which combines adjustments, exercises, and spinal remodeling programs to realign the spine back to health. Dr. Scott is among only a handful of Florida chiropractors trained in CBP, the most research- and results-oriented corrective chiropractic technique.
Contact Dr. Scott at Stronglife Chiropractic in Lithia, Florida, 813-655-5433 to find out whether you qualify for CBP care.