Summer Flip Flops & Back Pain

Posted on July 2, 2013. Filed under: Acupuncture Information, Chiropractic, Exercise, Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

 Now that summer is upon us, it’s time to pull out the summer wardrobe which includes shoe wear.  Unfortunately, a bad pair of flat flip flops can lead to back pain symptoms and throw your whole balance off.  The foot is one of the most complex parts of the body consisting of 38 bones connected by numerous joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments and is susceptible to many stresses.  Foot problems may include pain, inflammation, or injury and many of those problems can be caused by improper footwear.  These problems can become even more pronounced for those who spend most of their time in supportive footwear during the week and then transition to flats or flip flops for the weekends.  Podiatrists recommend that flip flops and sandals be worn for more home and poolside lounging, not spending the day walking around in.

Overuse of the tendons and muscles in the toes while walking in flat soled shoes can lead to chronic inflammation of the tendons, or tendonitis.  Because the flip flop is so loose, the toes are constantly gripping in an effort to keep the shoe on the foot.  The squishy sole of the flip flop allows the foot to over pronate (roll inward) and the toes extend and flex in an attempt to control that motion.  All this contributes to strain in the ankles, calf, knees, and lower back.

Those flat cheap flip flops may seem like a bargain now, but in the long run can cause all sorts of issues.  Most flip flops alter your gait, making you take shorter steps, which can lead to pain in other areas of the body.

Some of the problems with “cheap”  flip flops include:

  • flat foot bed which are bad for archesflip flop design
  • poor support which can cause ankle injuries
  • ease of sliding of feet which can cause calluses & blisters
  • slippery and no traction when wet

And “cheap” doesn’t necessarily mean price only.  Construction is most important here.  Just because a flip flop carries a designer name, doesn’t mean it’s designed with the support you need.  When searching for flip flops, choose one with an arch support and a solid and sturdy foot bed that keeps your heels from sliding around.  It should be molded to support the “bio-mechanics” of the foot, not just a flat piece of rubber you stand on.

The American Podiatric Medical Association has several approved brands.  They suggest you check out brands by Orthaheel, Chaco, FitFlop, or Dr. Comfort.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help alleviate some of the pain.
1.  Get the correct pair of shoes!
2.  Lightly massage the area to help ease the pain and reduce inflammation
3.  Alternate hot and cold treatments on the affected areas
4. Manually stretch and flex the toes, balls of feet, arches and ankles
5. Consider Acupuncture treatment.

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