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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on facebook (@neepawachiropracticcentre), Instagram (neepawachiropractic) and Twitter (@npwchiro).