Ok, Houston, It’s Time to Ditch Your Flip Flops
With all the challenges our city is facing right now, we don’t want this to be your summer of foot pain, too. But we’re worried it will be—at least, if you keep wearing those flip-flops all the time. You see, wearing your flip flops all day will probably result in some pretty sore feet when you get home. And, the problem might not be limited to the days you spend in flip-flops. In fact, wearing the wrong shoes can cause long-term foot damage.
We know, this may not be what you want to hear. But, in the long run, we’re doing you a favor. Just a few days ago, our patient talked about her experience in our office, explaining the following: “Dr. Bachmann was honest (even if it wasn’t fun to hear). He was kind and so was the staff. Thank y’all so much for not rushing me out the door. My previous experience with another podiatrist left me scarred for life, but thanks to Dr. Bachmann, I am not so scared to go to a podiatrist anymore.”
So, there you have it. It’s our job, as trained podiatrists, to tell you the truth. And today’s truth is this: no matter how cute or easy it is to wear your Nike flip flops, they’re still bad for your feet. It’s a simple fact, that we’ll explore in depth with today’s post.
Why Do Flip Flops Cause Foot Pain?
Ok, let’s say you slip on those extra-cute Tory Burch flip-flops and head out for a day running errands. Is it really such a bad idea? We have to tell it to you straight: yes, this is a problem. When you spend an extended period of time in flip flops (even designer flip flops), you’re letting your arch collapse. This changes the way you walk, it affects your posture, and it puts a ton of extra pressure on your feet. All of which translates to heel pain and foot pain. Some of which may go away when you wear more supportive shoes. And some of which could become a long-term problem.
You see, when you walk naturally, your feet pronate (roll) briefly. But, in flip flops, your feet stay rolled for longer periods of time, shifting the way weight gets distributed across your feet. Over time, this redistribution can change your body’s biomechanics (its structures, functions and movements.)
If that sounds like a problem to you, you’re very correct. Faulty biomechanics contribute to so many causes of foot pain we see in the office, including bunions, hammertoes. They can also contribute to help pain conditions like Achilles tendinitis.
How Soon will the Damage Occur?
Listen, we promised to be honest, so here’s the deal: if you just wear your flip-flops briefly, and don’t do it every day, you should be fine. So Havaianas at the beach or pool? It shouldn’t be a problem? But keeping on a flip flop all day long? For several days a week? You’re unlikely to get away with this behavior.
At first, you may not notice any problems. But over time, you’re almost certain to experience one or more of these problems:
A bunion is a prominent bump on the inside of your foot, around your big toe joint. This bump is actually a bone protruding, and its growth can leave your foot swollen and sore, making walking uncomfortable.
A bunionette is similar to a bunion, but it develops on the outside of your foot, near your little toe. It is sometimes referred to as “tailor’s bunion,” because years ago, tailors sat cross-legged, rubbing the outside of their feet against the floor all day, which left them with bumps beneath their little toes.
Your bunion risk may be hereditary, but wearing the wrong shoes (like a flip flop) can make it more likely for a bunion to form, or for an existing bunion to grow larger.
This condition affects the shape of your toes: they become permanently bent because the tendons at the bottom of your toes have overpowered the ones on top. Faulty footwear is a primary contributor to this problem: to keep your feet in place on a slippery flip flop, your toes have to clench and grip. And that action empowers your lower toe tendons, while scrunching up your feet and weakening the upper tendons.
You may not know this, but your feet have thick ligaments that run from the base of your heel to your toes. Called a plantar fascia, it has a lot of work to do, supporting your daily movements. Now, when your arch collapses in your flip flop, that’s a problem for your plantar fascia. Your foot becomes longer, which stretches out this ligament, even allowing small tears to develop along its length. This contributes to the swelling, inflammation and heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
How Can I Prevent Foot Pain in the Summer?
For starters, we need you to select better foot wear. Instead of a flip flop, try a sandal with a thicker sole and, ideally, some back straps and toe coverage. For women, a low-heeled wedge works well. For men and kids, even slides are better than flip flops, since they often come with thicker soles and contoured foot beds to help prevent foot gripping.
Now, if we’re catching you too late to prevent some of these shoe-related foot problems, don’t worry. We’re here to help, never to judge. When you come into our office or see us in a telemedicine visit, we’ll work together to get you on the right track and correct your foot condition. Just ask Sandy L., who shared the following message with us on Healthgrades after her recent visit: “I saw Dr. Walsh for bad blisters on my toes from my athletic shoes. I even brought new shoes with me to ask her opinion if they were right for me to wear. She has a very kind and caring disposition and explained things to me in an easy to understand manner. She even noticed another issue with my feet and recommended that I discuss this with my cardiologist. Her staff were also very nice and pleasant to work with. I highly recommend Dr. Walsh and this practice.”
Our only goal is to protect your health and keep you moving comfortably. It’s why we’re following all CDC recommendations in our office, requiring patients and staff to wear masks. It’s why we’re offering telemedicine appointments to at-risk individuals, like our diabetic patients, who may feel safer seeking home-care. And it’s why we’ll always tell you the truth: about your shoes, your foot pain, and all your treatment options!
Sources: Pure Wow