As a Physical Therapist in an outpatient orthopedic clinic for the past 18 years, I have seen numerous foot and ankle conditions. A common theme for most of these problems is a result of improper foot wear. In Minnesota we love when the weather starts to warm up after a long cold winter. Spring cleaning begins along with pulling out the summer clothes and of course our Flip Flops.
We all love to wear Flip flops for the color and style, but what most of us don’t realize is that these thin, foot freeing slabs of foam can cause all kinds of problems. Unfortunately, the majority of flip flops do not support your foot in a way that promotes a healthy lower extremity. Not only does poor foot support put excess stress on the joints of your foot and ankle, but it also can stress the knee, hip and lumbar spine.
The Lower kinetic chain reaction starts when the foot hits the ground and transfers tension and force into the leg and even up to your low back. Your foot and entire leg are supposed to absorb this shock and disperse the force appropriately. The proper supportive footwear can help control this process. If you have plantar fasciitis (common painful foot condition), ankle pain, knee and hip degeneration or low back pain, you need to be more selective about your footwear this summer. Standing or walking for short periods of time by the pool or beach may not cause an immediate problem, but prolonged standing and walking could result in a more significant issue. Tennis shoes or supportive sandals and even a supportive flip flop, if they exist, are much better options than the old standard $.98 flip flop.
Here are some helpful tips from the American Podiatric Medical Association and endorsed by Physical Therapists.
* Do shop for a flip flop made of high quality, soft leather. Leather minimizes the potential for blisters and other types of irritation.
* Do look for flip flops that hold APMA’s seal of acceptance, such as those made by Chaco. Evaluated by a team of APMA podiatrists, these products are shown to allow for the most normal foot function and promote quality health.
* Do gently bend the flip flop from the end to end, ensuring it bends at the ball of the foot. Shoes of any kind should NEVER fold in half.
* Do wear a sturdy pair of flip flops when walking around a public pool, at the beach, in hotel rooms and in locker room areas. Walking barefoot can expose foot soles to plantar warts and athlete’s foot.
* Do ensure that your foot doesn’t hang off of the edge of the flip flops.
* Don’t rewear flip flops year after year. Inspect older pairs for wear. If they show signs of severe wear, discard them.
* Don’t ignore irritation between toes, where the to thong fits. This can lead to blisters and possible infections.
* Don’t wear flip flops while walking long distances. Even the sturdiest flip flops offer little in terms of shock absorption and arch support.
* Don’t do yard work while wearing flip flops. Always were a shoe that fully protects feet when doing outside activities such as mowing the lawn or using a weed eater.
* Don’t play sports in flip flops!! This practice can lead to twisting of the foot or ankle, as well as sprains, breaks and tendinitis.
You can visit the APMA’s Seal of Acceptance page to view recommended flip flops. Go to www.apma.org Click footwear and Products, Products by Type, Footwear, flip flops/sandals for a full list of approved products.
What You Might Want To Know Before Slipping On Your Next Pair Of Flip Flops