Flip Flops, Friend or Foe?

Flip Flops, Friend or Foe?

Chiropractic Naples FL Health

Flip flops…we all seem to have a pair or 10. They slip on so easily and make our summer attire look good, but are they really a good fit for our feet? In short, the answer is no. While flip flops may be your go to summer shoes, they provide little to no protection or support for your feet. The foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. I bet you didn’t realize what was in that foot of yours, huh?

Let’s start with what happens with the arch of your foot when you wear flops. On the bottom of the foot, there is a thick band of tissue called the Plantar Fascia (PF). The PF goes from the heel (calcaneus) to the toes (phalanges). Lack of support from your flip flop can cause the arch of the foot to flatten, or over-pronate. The lack of support and the overuse of the foot leaving the surface of the flop can lead to foot pain and even Plantar Fasciitis (inflammation of the PF). Inflammation and the over pronation can not only effect the foot, but can stir up issues with many things above the ankle joint.

Speaking of above the ankle….An Auburn University study found that when you wear flip flops, you in turn, change the way you walk and your walking pattern (gait). When wearing your thongs, you begin to take shorter steps and heel strike at a less vertical force. Your natural gait is thrown off and can trigger pain throughout the body, especially in the ankles, knees and low back. SO, flip flops don’t just effect the foot, they can send pain all the way up the body!

Your phalanges are showing!!! Toes, that is…With only a minimal strap or piece of thin material holding your foot to the flip flop, your toes must grip harder to keep the “shoe” on. Overtime, the repetitive gripping and overuse of the muscles in the area can cause an inflammation of the tendons, or tendonitis. If treated correctly and in a timely manner, tendonitis can usually be taken care of, but if it is not resolved, tears or ruptures of the tendons can occur (in extreme cases). Over-wearing of flip flops can also exacerbate “hammer toe” and encourage bunion formation. Flip flops don’t sound as cute as they did before…..

Since I know 99% of us will continue to wear this footwear flop, here are some tips on finding a “better” “shoe” for your summer break!

  1. The bend test: If you pick out that summer gem and you can bend the entire piece of rubber/foam in half….put it back. There’s not enough support for your feet.
  2. Strap it in: Look for a flip flop with a strap around the back of the heel, it will help slightly “support” the foot by keeping it in place a little more than just the thong.
  3. Material & Arch: Find a flip flop with a thicker sole and possibly a built in arch support. Leather has been seen to be slightly more comfortable when it comes to blisters and usually holds up a little better than the flimsy rubber material that is commonly used. Flip flops I have personally worn before that provide a little better support and comfort on the foot are listed below.

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Gulf Coast Spine & Sport, LLC

2240 Venetian Ct, Unit A
Naples, FL 34109

(239) 745-5561