Spring is here and it's time to get active!!!! The weather is finally getting warm and it is time to pull out those favorite flip flops that you love. They are easy to get on, they keep your feet cool, and they look great. However, there are a lot more downsides to wearing flip flops then you think!
The Problems With Choosing Flip Flops
Flip flop injuries are on a dramatic rise in Canada, mainly because of their increased popularity and their increased acceptance for wear at work and play. Although there are no good statistics in Canada about flip flop-related injuries, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service has reported that more than 200,000 patients are treated each year for flip flop-related injuries at an estimated cost of more than 40 million UK Pounds ($62 million USD). Common acute injuries that bring people to emergency rooms all summer long include injured toes, blisters, trips and falls. Flip flops have even been attributed to be the cause of a number of car accidents!
2. No support
Prolonged flip flop wear is contributed to overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis, (an irritation of the flexible cord that spans the arch), metatarsalgia (under the balls of the feet), and lower limb pain (shin splints, pain in the ankle and knee). The prevalence of back pain also dramatically rises with long-term flip flop use. Your method of gait changes when wearing flip flops because there is less flexion at the ankle, and the toes are forced down to hold onto the flip flop. These mechanical differences convey more force to the leg and foot muscles and predispose the foot to injury. To put it bluntly, most flip flops offer little to no support or protection for your feet.
3. Toe deformities
Yes, a picture of nasty looking toes... In order to walk in most flip flops, one has to apply downward pressure with the first toe or by flexing the rest of the toes. This dramatically increases your chance of getting a bunion or hammer toes. These conditions can be very painful in their advanced stages and also change your overall ability to walk properly. Walking this way also causes an imbalance in the muscles of the feet and can cause the joints of the foot to become unstable and deformed.
The Flip Flop Solution
So what can you do about it, as I know you will not be willing to throw out your favorite summer shoes! This is like life - "its all about compromise".
1. The first thing is to avoid buying the flat inexpensive flip flops that are essentially a toe piece on a foam base. Look for a more expensive brand that includes an arch support and more secure fit at the first toe or a full support across the top of your foot.
2. Secondly, do not wear your flip flops all day and every day. Evidence shows that you can avoid injury if you limit the amount of time wearing them.
3. Thirdly, do not wear flip flops for any form of exercising. Running, hiking, biking and basically any other sport where you have to move fast or change direction quickly. You are asking for an ankle sprain or foot injury!
4. Lastly, do not drive in your flip flops.
Follow these simple rules and you will have a pain-free flip flop summer!!
Activity Fact: The most common cause of a foot injury presenting to an emergency room is due improper footwear.
Every May and June at the Neepawa Chiropractic and Massage Centre, we have our annual orthotic sale. Discussions arise with patients if they need these rather expensive custom insoles for their shoes. So, the purpose of today's Blog is to inform you whether you might benefit from custom orthotic insoles. Here are some reasons to why you might need to have your feet evaluated.
1. Pain and Discomfort
Pain is a signal from your body that something is getting overused or is not functioning properly. Heel pain is one of the most common foot problems and is often from plantar fasciitis, where the arch is dropping and putting extra stress on the main ligament on the bottom of the foot. Osteoarthritis and joint restrictions are other common foot pains and can be a result of unstable joints. Metatarsalgia is pain under the pads of the toes and is associated with dropped arches of the foot and improper mechanics. Prolonged use of improper foot wear is a major factor that causes pain in the feet. Pay attention to foot pain!
2. Heel Cord Positioning
By observing the Achilles tendon at the back of the foot, you can see if the foot is rotating in (pronation) or if it is rotating out (supination). Ideally, the heel cord is straight up and down. When the foot is flat it is commonly associated with a C-shaped heel cord.
3. Calluses and Shoe Wear
A normal functioning foot shouldn't have excessive callusing at the heel, midfoot or on the big toe. Callusing is a sure sign that there is excessive force being placed on the callused area due to improper foot mechanics. Often, premature wear on your shoes correlates with the area of the callusing on your feet. If you wear out the outside of your shoes, or if the heel wears out fast, it is time for orthotic insoles.
4. The Wet Test
With wet feet, stand on a piece of newspaper or paper towel and then examine your footprint. A footprint without a c-curve in the arch could signify a pronator, and a prominent c-curve could suggest a supinator. Often people need orthotics if they have over-pronation.
5. Injury or Surgury
If you have recently suffered an injury or had surgery to your lower extremities, it is important to make sure you are properly supporting your recovery from the ground up. Often hip and knee surgeries leave the patient with a leg length difference. A misaligned gait can cause issues with your ankles, knees, and hips. Orthotic insoles can have a post on the heel part to equal out your leg lengths.
Not everyone needs orthotics, as most foot pain can be alleviated by good footwear and over-the-counter insoles. However, there are times when a person has a foot type or over-use condition that requires an insole to provide more support. Orthotics can help with sore feet and can be a smart preventative measure to help avoid future foot problems. Orthotics provide optimal correction, prevention of symptoms, and shock absorption.
Activity fact: There are 206 bones in the human body and 52 of them are in your feet!
As the weather warms up, people are being more active and start to wear flip-flops. This often leaves patients with sore feet limping into the office with Plantar Fasciitis. My goal is to keep people active and I hope this blog post helps you get rid of that nasty heal pain!
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis can often be a very painful and disabling condition of the foot. It is characterized by pain located at the bottom of the foot over the heal. If you have plantar heel pain there is an 80% chance it is plantar fasciits. The pain is often worse in the morning when taking your first steps and is also brought on by prolonged standing or walking. The condition often comes on gradually and is associated with tight calf muscles and Achilles tendons.
Often people will state that they have noticed over the past year or two that their arches have started to drop and their shoe size has increased by a half or even a full size. The long transverse arch of the foot is dropping and lengthening the plantar fascia ligament that spans across the arch from the heel to the toes. The purpose of this ligament is to maintain the longitudinal arch as you apply force through the foot when walking or running. As the arch drops, or over-pronates, the plantar fascia ligament stretches. In plantar fasciitis, small painful micro-tears occur at the heel attachment. Your body then starts to lay down calcium to strengthen the ligament and the last line of defense is for the heal to grow a bony spur into the ligament, causing a painful heel spur.
How to Fix Plantar Fasciitis
Conservative treatment is the most effective treatment, with roughly 90% of cases resolving in 6 months. Four basic conservative treatments are the answer:
1. stretching the calf muscles- Daily stretching of the calf muscles helps lengthen the connective tissues and take pressure off the arch. Hanging your heel off of a step while standing is a great way to stretch.
2. Stretch the fascia- Simply place your foot up the wall and lean into the wall feeling the arch expand and stretch.
3. Support the arch so it doesn't drop- The first step is to purchase some over-the-counter in-soles with an arch that fits into the arch of your foot. If this doesn't work, getting a health professional to assess and prescribe custom orthotics in-soles is a must. Research shows that if you do have a varus-type foot, orthotics are your best relief. Often taping the arch is a great way to temporarily relieve plantar fasciitis pain.
4. Strengthen the arch- There are four layers of muscles on the bottom of your foot. Three of these layers help support the arch. Any exercise that curls the toes up under your foot helps strengthen the arch. This can involve picking an object up with your toes, scrunching a towel up under your foot, or pushing your toes against a resisted band.
Please leave me a message if you have any questions regarding the exercises. You can also leave a comment anytime. Share this blog if it helped you are you feel it could help someone you know.
As spring arrives, patients start visiting our office with sore heels. Change of activity levels and the use of less supportive footwear are often the cause. Use these simple treatment options to help treat or even avoid plantar fasciitis, and then get out and get active!
Activity fact: The average person takes between 5,000 and 7,000 steps in a day!
Dr. Mark Perrett
Dr. Perrett is a Canadian-trained chiropractor and has owned a multidisciplinary clinic in Neepawa for the past twenty years. His mission is to keep people active and help them achieve optimal health. He is an avid long-distance runner and enjoys soccer and strength-training. He is on the executive team for the Canadian Chiropractic College Board of Governors, Chairman of the licensing committee for the Manitoba Chiropractors Association, a board member and avid fundraiser for World Spine Care, and is involved in the Canadian Chiropractic Guidelines Initiative. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on facebook (@neepawachiropracticcentre), Instagram (neepawachiropractic) and Twitter (@npwchiro).
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