Sunday, July 22, 2012

I used to refer to my feet as "old lady feet" because my arches are flat and most of the time I am wearing sensible shoes with orthodics. However, this summer I decided I wanted a more "youthful" look so I started wearing flip flops. (As I look around it seems like almost everyone is wearing some sort of flip flop.)

I bought a few pairs. Two of them have rubber soles that are a little thicker than the cheaper flip flops. One pair is a Doctor Sholes and one pair is . It doesn't seem to matter which pair I wear but if I wear them too long it causes my knee to hurt. Needless to say I've been rethinking my need to have youthful looking feet.

Although our feet were designed to walk barefoot on natural surfaces (grass, sand or gravel), they are not meant to endure concrete, asphalt or hard surfaces that many of us walk on today. These surfaces are hard on our feet. Flip Flops are not designed (because of their thin sole) to absorb the shock of walking on these hard surfaces.

Flip Flop's lack of arch support can cause another common foot injury: plantar fasciitis. This occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot is overstretched. People with flatter arches are more prone to such overuse injuries because they need more support for their muscles and ligaments. (this is me!)

Other injuries can result from flip flop's lack of protection. This means toes can be badly injured if someone steps on them, or drops something on your foot. Blisters can occur between your toes where you grip the flip flop strap. And now, some doctors are warning of a new danger - skin cancer, as the sun suddenly hits an area that's usually well-covered. People often forget to put sunscreen on their feet. Skin cancer on the feet can be really dangerous because the spots are easier to miss, especially if they're between the toes.

Diabetics, who often have poor circulation and feeling in their feet, should be especially careful if they are wearing flip flops. If they get blisters they are more prone to infections and non-healing sores. Those with balance issues may find it hard to feel secure when wearing rubbery flip-flops. For those people that are heavy or obese, wearing those flip flops can add strain to feet that are already stressed with carrying extra weight.

Now there is a little upside to wearing flip flops I think. Don't they just make you feel good and put you in a good mood? They remind us of happy summer days and being carefree. It's hard to be in a bad mood when you're wearing flip-flops.

So I say listen to your feet! If they hurt, or if your knees or hips hurt, pay attention. Buy a high quality pair and keep them for days on the beach or wearing for short periods of time. They're not for every day wear if you value the health of your feet.  

(How long do you wear your flip flops? Could you ever give them up?)
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