Dr. Anique Walters, PT
Concierge and lifestyle Physical Therapy
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Empowering YOU Through Movement

Concierge Physical Therapy blog to empower patients with health, wellness, prevention and rehabilitation education to improve their lifestyle and overall well-being. 

#FAQF... “ugghh…why can’t I wear flip-flops?”

This is a perfect question for the heat of the summer.  I totally get the allure of flip-flops and I am not big on giving people a hard no on stuff they like, so my advice is everything in moderation.  Come on, I wouldn't expect you to wear gym shoes to the beach (yes, I am from Chicago and I do call them gym shoes). But I will highlight a few of the real bio-mechanical reasons why flip flops shouldn't be your go-to shoe

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Your foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 other structures for two main reasons. 1. to negotiate all types of surfaces 2. to disperse the force that goes through your body with every step

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So with flip flops, your toes have to grip the shoe to make sure it doesn't fall off.  This gripping changes the muscle recruitment patterns in your entire lower extremity which throws everything off. This can lead to hammer toes, bunions, plantarfasciitis, achilles tendonitis, knee pain, hip bursitis, osteoarthritis, and even low back pain… huh? How??…

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Your stride length and stance time will both be shortened, your plantarflexion (pointing your toe) will be lessened, tibialis anterior activity will sky rocket causing co-contraction of both the dorsiflexors and plantarflexors to be more active.  This essentially makes your foot and ankle complex a rigid structure (Yikes!), making it harder to walk safely on uneven surfaces and changing the ground reaction forces through your leg

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The changes don’t stop there.  Because you aren't getting normal motion through your ankle, you end up having to hike your hip to clear your foot without losing your shoe.  This hip flexion strategy just increases the work in our iliopsoas muscles which definitely do not need it! This muscle group is one of the main contributors to low back, hip, and knee pain so we do not need to make it work harder than it already does. . 

Moral of story. Try to get sandals with a heel strap. Avoid running, jumping or walking long distances in them. Stretch, wiggle your toes, and roll out your feet after. Be sure to wash your feet too! Never know what you walked through! 

Have a great weekend

Anique Walters