This week Tuppy from Stride & Glide Sports came to visit us at AHS and she spoke about footwear (and a few other things). This lead us to thinking about flip-flops now that we are all digging out our summer shoes and enjoying better weather.
78% of adults have experienced one or more issues with their feet in their lifetime. Wearing flip-flops (or any shoes that don’t properly connect to our feet – like slides or slippers) can increase the problems we may have with our feet, but they don’t have to. We are fans of ‘minimalist’ shoes but some flip-flops take this concept a little too far.
What happens to our feet when we wear unsupportive flip-flops?
Our stride length decreases and we tend to turn our feet inward (“pigeon-toed”) or outward (“duck footed”) to avoid kicking off our shoes.
We scrunch up our toes to grip the shoes when we walk, thus creating a change to our walking pattern (gait). And when we bend our toes in unnatural places, this creates more downward pressure on different parts of our foot (like the balls of our feet) as they push into the ground. As well, we tend to chronically flex the muscles in the front our legs (tibialis anterior) with this toe-tension, this is both exhausting and potentially for our lower legs.
We increase the risk of stumbling and ankle sprains as there is no ankle support.
Our feet may experience ‘fatigue’ or pain as there is little arch support (especially with the thin rubber flip-flops). Feet tend in flatten out and the ankles roll inward (over-pronation).
Heel pain may increase as the main connective ligament from the heel to toes (plantar fascia ligament) becomes inflamed.
This is quite a painful list of foot ailments … BUT … there are solutions and things to think so you can enjoy your summer in your favorite shoes without any problems:
Choose a flip-flop with a sturdy sole with some good cushioning.
Enjoy walking short distances, especially for ‘transitions’ (like to and from the beach or cabin). Don’t wear them for driving, but wearing them as a passenger is good.
Make sure your flip-flops have comfortable straps to keep the shoe on your foot, and to avoid rubbing and painful blisters.
Pay attention to your stride, foot position, and general walking pattern. This may prevent you from getting stuck in painful habits and positions when you walk with your flip-flops.
Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your feet with the extra sun exposure they will get.
Finally, rolling out your feet at the end of the day using a hard ball will help unlock the tightness you might feel. Roll back and forth across the arch AND roll from the toes to the heel. Lifting up your toes and splaying them wide several times will get them moving again. And don’t forget a few stretches. First your calf muscle will be happy to get stretched out, and then point your toe backwards and behind you to stretch out the top of your foot. A little maintenance will go a LONG way to preventing any foot issues you may experience this summer.
Tuppy left a stack of coupons with us at the front counter. If you are in the market for a decent pair of summer flip-flops (or new shoes for any activity), please take one and head down to Stride & Glide Sports. They have an expert staff and a wide array of shoes to pick from (in some funky summer colors)! Their go-to brand is OOFOS and they are a good flip-flop for this sunny season.