Today is National Flip-Flop Day, which is good because both I and the kid did that all night long so I feel ahead of the game.
I know, I know. They’re talking about the shoes.
The tagline for National Flip-Flop Day is “A celebration of open toes and open hearts” which is very sweet. But after seeing a few health magazines post “WEAR YOUR FLIP-FLOPS TO WORK ALL DAY” on their Facebook page, I feel compelled to offer a bit of input before you flip it to work.
The flip-flop, or as I like to call it, the bikini of footwear, while awesome for all that airflow to the skin has one feature that makes it undesirable for all-day wear: the upper. The upper of a shoe is the part that connects the shoe to the foot. Because a flip-flop upper is so minimal, you have to assist keeping the shoe on by gripping your toes. After awhile this motor pattern leads to shortened toe muscles which can affect balance, foot arch strength and lead to toe contractures and “hammer toes.” If you are gripping to keep your shoe on, this also creates a new, less natural gait pattern.
To keep your natural stride (and shoe) on, I recommend something that looks more like a Greek sandal. You know, all strappy and golden and stuff. There are uppers that are still very minimal, but engineered in a way that the shoe stays on without you needing to tighten your toes.
And Guys no need for you to feel left out. I’m pretty sure they make a Adonis model that will go perfect with your business suit.
You can find flat, flexible-soled and strappy footwear for less than $25 bucks, usually at Ross or TJMaxx or other stores with double consonants. Your bones and muscles will thank you.
Wear flip flops a lot? Try this toe-unclenching stretch from my book:
Aaaaand, you can also read this article: http://www.lowerextremityreview.com/article/flip-flops-fashionable-but-functionally-flawed
IS THERE EVER A RIGHT TIME FOR FLIP-FLOPS?
Sure. As basic foot protection in a public bathing area, getting in and out of the pool, or walking down on the beach are a great place for these bikini-shoes. The negative impact of this type of footwear only comes from wearing it often, creating certain muscular recruitment.
If you like the open feel of a flip flop, try to find a shoe with a minimal, yet well-engineered upper that give you plenty of breathing room across the feet without invoking alterations in your stride or your foot-firing patterns. There are many outdoor-shoe companies that strive to offer in-and-out of the water footwear that makes water sports and outdoor activities safe for the feet, yet a lot more comfortable than a full, heavy shoe.
Please share with your friends! The post, I mean. Not your thongs. That wouldn't be very hygienic.
Carl, T., Barrett S. 2008. Computerized Analysis of Plantar Pressure Variation in Flip-Flops, Athletic Shoes, and Bare Feet. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association Volume 98 Number 5 374-378.
Shroyer, J., Weimar W. 2010. Comparative Analysis of Human Gait While Wearing Thong-Style Flip-flops versus Sneakers. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association Volume 100 Number 4 251-257.