Flip-Flops and Your Posture
Ahhh, summertime at last! Flip-flops are a mainstay of summertime footwear, but they can be painfully bad for your feet and legs. Unlike sturdy shoes, flip-flops aren’t recommended for extensive walking because they offer no arch support, heel cushioning, or shock absorption.
Flip Flops allow your arches to remain as flat as they want to be and for some people, that may be OK depending on the structure of their foot. However, if you have a foot that tends to over pronate (fallen arches), you’re not receiving any additional support to help counter your biomechanics concerns. Your body is one large kinetic chain; all its parts are interconnected, with one part affecting another. Not unlike the childhood nursery rhyme, your feet are connected and affect your ankles, knees, hips, and your spine. When you stand, walk, or run, you subject your body to the natural forces and postures that can cause stress and strain to that very kinetic chain. Simply put, your feet are the foundation for your entire body; they are the tires to your vehicle. When people walk in flip-flops, they alter their gait which may result in problems and pain from the foot that then travels up into the knees, hips, and lower back.
So then what happens? The short answer- your body compensates like it was built to do. A tweak here, a twinge there, and now you have changes to your entire posture.
Am I asking you to throw out your flip-flop? No! I’m asking you to use your logic. Concert all day? Walk along the Seawall? Wear some shoes that provide good support and are comfortable. The beach? Not a lot of walking? Flip-flops? Sure; it can be that simple. Although, if you get to the “my back is really sore and/or tight” stage, you may need a spinal adjustment as well. The moral of the story- the sooner you start walking with some support to your daily footwear, the better off you will be. Most of you already know if you have some issues with your feet or low back.
Here’s an interesting and fun test: next time you’re near a pool step in the water and then onto a dry patch of cement. Now look at your footprint. How does your imprint look? Do you have an arch (can you see an imprint of your toes, the ball of your foot, and your heel but there is a dry spot where your arch can’t reach the ground)? Or is the imprint flat (the whole foot is seen with no dry areas)? If you have little or no arch you have answered your own question, haven’t you? Consider having an evaluation to determine the cause of your fallen arches. You may require some adjustments to clear out a functional leg length discrepancy, a treatment plan to resolve an ankle or knee injury, or you may require orthotics. If you have arches keep in mind those arches will fatigue when you put a lot of strain on them (like walking around all day in flip-flops). It’s natural; the muscles in your feet are used to some support and if you have chosen a shoe without any, you are going to show some signs of fatigue. They will begin to drop thus initiating a change in your kinetic chain.
Hope this helps and as always, if you’re unsure, seek out the advice of a health care practitioner.
Have a great day and enjoy the sun,
Dr. Crysta Serné
Vancouver Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic