The sun is shining, birds are chirping, shorts and t-shirt weather is here at last. Now it’s time to pull out your favorite warm weather footwear, the ever popular flip flop, and head outside.
Not so fast!
It’s easy to understand the appeal of flip-flops when the weather turns warm. They’re quick to put on and take off, let your feet stay cool and comfortable, and easily withstand a good ‘ole pool party. But your standard flip-flop causes you to walk differently than a regular shoe, therefore altering your gate and your musculoskeletal alignment.
Research from Auburn University suggests that wearing flip-flops for excessive amounts of time could cause temporary or even long-term damage to the musculoskeletal system. People who walk in flip-flops alter their gait, which oftentimes results in pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back. Flip-flops will cause the wearer to take shorter steps than normal, so feet hit the ground with less vertical force than athletic shoes. The rest of the body must compensate, which can put added stress on the arch, heel, legs, hip, and lower back.
“People think that with flip flops you’re going to have foot pain, but flip flops actually change the way your foot strikes the ground and because of that, there are altered mechanics at the knee, the hip and the back. Your back will often take the brunt of those unnatural muscle movements,” says Annie Malone, a physical therapist at Athletico, an outpatient rehabilitation provider in Chicago.
So, what’s the solution to rescue your summer and your lower back? It’s not to throw away every flip flop you own, but you should be mindful of when you choose to wear them. A quick trip to the pool or around the locker room is fine. If your summer fun includes long walks at the amusement park, it’s best to reach for an athletic shoe.
If you are a flip flop fan that can’t be swayed, Dr. Joy Rowland, DPM of the Cleveland Clinic recommends the following.
- Limit the time spent in your flip flop, less is more.
- If you’re shopping for a new pair, pick a more supportive style with arch support or a heel cup that will help control motion.
- Listen to your body. If an ache or pain is sending a signal, consider your footwear.
In closing, you love your summer flip flops, we get it. You probably don’t love the hot packs, cold packs, and occasional frozen bag of peas that have become your new best friends. Daily aches and pains don’t need to be a part of your everyday life. If you have an injury, ache, or pain that has persisted for more than three months, you could be suffering from chronic pain. Chronic pain is serious and if left untreated can lead to a life of unnecessary discomfort and sacrifice. You don’t have to live with your pain.
The medical providers at MidSouth Pain Treatment Center are here to help. Through state-of-the-art treatment and therapies, we can return you to the life you love without the effects of chronic pain. We offer five convenient locations throughout the Mid-South and accept self-referrals. This means that you don’t need to be referred by your family doctor to make an appointment. And, we don’t require an MRI to get started. So, carry on, enjoy the warm weather and remember this blog, and your friends at MidSouth Pain Treatment Center, the next time you’re tempted to slide your foot into a flip flop.