As many of you know, I usually look at your shoes when you come in. As the summer finally comes to us the footwear of choice seems to be flip flops. They can be just fine for short spurts of time but as your everyday summer shoe they can cause problems for a long time to come.
Thinking about shoes when I was talking to a patient the other day made me reflect back to chiropractic school. The analogy that was always used was one of the foundation of a house is the same as our bodies. If the base/basement is off so is everything above it so that eventually it will result in disrepair, whether it is your house or your body.
Flip flops when worn for long periods of time have a biomechanical effect on everything from your foot/ankle to your hip and lower back. And as Logan stated, if your low back is off so is the rest of your spine. Your center of gravity changes and your body adapts and you alter the way that you walk.
A normal gait consists of heel strike, foot flat loading, mid stance, heel rise, toe off and swing phase. When you wear flip flops you are grabbing the thong with your toes and changing your gait so as the pressure is mainly placed on the mid-foot. Your gait is changed in that you take shorter steps because you can't lift your leg up as far as in a normal step with a standard shoe. This is the reason you see so many people in flip flops doing a sort of "shuffle".
The negative effects of wearing flip flops for long periods of time:
-They don't absorb the shock when you walk.
-There is a lack of support.
-They do not hold the foot so you use the tendons and muscles to hold the shoe on. This increases the stress up the leg.
-Those that are diabetic may have a decrease in circulation and a decrease of feeling in their feet and legs. Wearing flip flops exposes those with diabetes to a greater risk of injury and infection.
-Those who pack on the extra pounds are increasing the stress on the feet and ankles that are already overstressed due to the extra weight.
There is a positive side to wearing flip flops in the locker room to help protect against fungus and wart causing viruses. It is also okay to wear them at the pool, the beach and for short periods of time. The main thing is just don't "overwear" them!
As Dr. Andrew Weil states "Our feet are our connection to the earth". Wear good shoes, think about your body and your joints. Your body is your physical house so keep it healthy and centered.