As we just pass the middle point of summer, this is when I typically start to see an influx of clients come in with heel pain, commonly known as plantar fasciitis. Whether you are hiking the Bruce Trail in beautiful Burlington and Milton, or walking the streets of downtown Toronto, commuting on the GoTrain from Oakville to Union Station, it’s all to often that we find it too easy to wear flip flops. The danger of wearing flip flops is scarier, once you know the risks. They do say, ignorance is bliss. In this case, ignorance is painful…and a lot of it if not corrected promptly.
Because flip flops are not proper footwear, they quickly lead to adapted biomechanics. In all honesty, it’s better to walk barefoot than it is to wear flip flops. Potential changes to the way we walk from wearing these pain-stricken devices include the following concerns:
- Since flip flops and other flimsy sandals do not have a proper enclosure system, we often grip the sandal with our toes. This can quickly lead to excessive use of the intrinsic foot muscles that are not designed to withstand that level of engagement. Prolonged use can result in the development of hammer toes, claw toes or mallet toes.
- Flat sandals also do not typically have arch support, and so the plantar fascia (a type of tissue that runs on the soles of your feet from the toes to the heel) is subjected to excessive and repetitive stress. Certain foot types like high arches (Pes Cavus) and flat feet (Pes Planus) are at risk of greater injury to the plantar fascia when wearing unsupportive footwear.
- The medial heel whip – this is when the foot does not flex like it is supposed to (at the ball of your foot). In order to provide propulsion to push your body forward, your foot pivots on the big toe joint (where bunions develop), and your heel moves toward the midline of your body. These causes sheer forces on your 1st MTP joint or bunion joint, and can significantly impact the development of painful bunions!
People often complain that they know that flip flops are bad, but they don’t want to wear bulky footwear with orthotics to support their feet. It’s 2017! You don’t need to wear clunky orthopedic footwear to be well supported. New technology and advancements in fashionable footwear now provide a vast selection of footwear that is comfortable and fashionable. There are supportive sandals available, even flip flops with arch support and a toe spring (not sure what that is, call us and we would be happy to explain the benefits of a toe spring in your walking sandals). Align is now working with a company in Portugal to manufacture complete custom sandals that is manufactured to the exact contours of your feet. Additionally, all the strapping, colours, and design of the device are in your control so that you can have the perfect sandal that looks exactly how you want, and corrects your foot posture and body alignment exactly how we want…for ultimate comfort.
Now, imagine yourself shopping along Queen Street in Toronto in your new custom sandals; you can easily enjoy a few hours of walking which can quickly add up to 5 or 10km and have no concerns at all… except for the people stopping you in the street to ask where you got your fancy new sandals from!