Seems like you can’t go anywhere without seeing someone wearing flip-flops. Heck, they’ve even been worn to the White House to see the President. There’s no denying that flip-flops are a summer shoe staple (although some people seem to think you can wear them in winter, too).
Variations of the flip-flop have been around for thousands of years. In fact, there are Egyptian murals dating from 4,000 B.C. that show people wearing shoes that look a lot like flip-flops. The Romans, the Greeks, and the Mesopotamians all had variations of the flip-flop. The only difference was the placement of the toe strap.
Flip-flops first appeared in America after World War II when soldiers brought back pairs of zori, a traditional Japanese sandal, as souvenirs. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that their popularity soared as beach and pool footwear. Then by the 1990s, flip-flops were no longer just for the beach. People began to wear them as street shoes, shoes for the office, and even as shoes for formal affairs.
Gone are the flip-flops made from papyrus and palm leaves in ancient times. Today, these shoes are made from rubber, wood, plastic, leather or bamboo. And, they come in a variety of colors, styles and price ranges.
The one thing that probably has not changed over the years is the affect these shoes can have on your feet. By design, flip-flops usually have little to no padding between your feet and the ground. Plus, they can be flimsy with little to no arch and heel support, often leading to arch and/or heel pain.
When you walk in flip-flops, you biomechanically change the way you walk – taking shorter steps with less impact on the heel and gripping the shoes with your toes. Over time, you use your muscles and joints differently, leading to muscle and joint strains.
Plus, when you walk or stand in flip-flops on hard surfaces for a long time, your plantar fascia can become strained, causing plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs from your heel bone across the bottom (or plantar side) of your foot to your toes, connecting to the metatarsal joints. Normally, the plantar fascia pulls on the heel bone and maintains the arch of your foot as it lifts off the ground. However, if your foot moves incorrectly, the plantar fascia may become strained, causing pain and inflammation.
To reduce or prevent foot pain from flip-flops, you should:
- Get rid of your flip-flops. Or at the very least, limit your wear. Don’t wear them every day all day.
- Avoid walking for long distances or extended time periods.
- Perform calf stretches throughout the day to keep your muscles loose and less susceptible to strain.
- Select sturdier flip-flop styles for more foot support. If you can twist them into a ball, they’re too flimsy.
- Look for shoes with built-in arch supports and heel indentations that allow you to walk more naturally.
- Attach custom orthotics, like ezWalker® Performance Insoles, into your flip-flops (with the help of a piece of Velcro® to hold them securely in place). These ultra thin, ¾ length, custom insoles support your arches and control your heels. They reduce the tension on your plantar fascia since your gait will be biomechanically corrected, realigning your feet to their natural position. Plus, ezWalker® insoles reduce the impact on your joints and muscles, relieving strain and pain.
By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to a great summer with less foot pain.
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.
Note: If your foot pain persists, see your doctor. You may have a more serious medical condition.