Avoid Foot Pain By Avoiding Flip-Flops
Flip-flops are popping up everywhere: at weddings, at work, at parties, and at home. What once was an article of clothing only seen at the beach or pool, now this flimsy footwear is a mainstay of closets across America. Ask someone why he/she wears flips and the laundry list of reasons is long. “They’re comfortable,” “They’re cool,” “They’re fun,” and “They’re less confining”; this list of reasoning is reshaping our shoe choices and fashion sense. However, this list of reasoning is not very sensible in terms of health. Many parts of the body suffer from flip-flop related problems, problems that can be avoided. Here is a list of good reasons to avoid flip-flops.
No Support: Flip-flops are the least supportive of all shoes. Most flips are as flat as a board while the foot itself has many curves and arches. Why do people try to make a foot conform to something flat? Curves and arches need to be supported or else they tend to collapse. Flat feet, bunions, and fasciitis are all painful conditions that tend to be related to flip-flops. Not only do flips lack support for the curvatures of the foot, but flips also do not support the heel. Normally, a shoe provides a heel cup which keeps the heel cradled in one position. Heel control is essential for providing a base of support for the entire leg, all the way up to the low back and torso. A heel flopping around in the breeze puts more stress on the ankles, knees, hips, and low back. At the end of the day, all of this flip-flopping around creates pain.
Poor Cushioning: This world is made of hard surfaces: concrete, asphalt, wood, and metal. It is not as if people are still living in the stone-age and walking on soft, swampy surfaces. Thus, our shoes need to provide the cushioning that our modern world has removed from the natural environment. A wafer thin piece of rubber strapped to the bottom of the foot is really not enough and especially not enough for all day adventures. With each blow to the bottom of the foot, shocks of vibration and thrust are sent up through all of the sensitive structures that were really not designed to withstand the demands of hard surfaces.
No Protection: As the use of flip-flops continues to increase so too does the incidence of ankle and foot injuries. Without the support and cushioning offered in a good shoe, the feet are vulnerable to the elements and some surprises. A misstep off a curb wearing nothing but flip-flops can result in significant injury to the foot and/or ankle. And the poor toes are just hanging out there waiting to be dropped on, bumped into, or stepped on.
Altered Gait: The human body is designed to walk a certain way. Broken down into phases: swing phase and stance phase; these phases of gait are important for the proper balance of the entire body while walking. If the mechanics of gait are altered, pain and injury are likely to occur. While walking in flip-flops, researchers have found that “when people walk in flip-flops, they alter their gait, which can result in problems and pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back”. The delicate balance and elegant design of walking is highly disrupted by flip-flops because the foot is too busy trying to grip the flip so it does not fall off.
Although flip-flops may be cute, comfortable, and cool, they are wrecking havoc on the human body especially as more and more people spend more and more time wearing these “shoes.” Well, flips are not even really shoes, just pieces of rubber loosely applied to the bottom of the foot offering no support, no cushioning, no protection and messing with the way an individual walks. All of this reasoning boils down to one good reason why flip-flops should be avoided: To Avoid Pain.
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.