Flip Flops and Heel Pain… Are they Correlated?
Your Flip Flops may be the cause of your Heel Pain…
Flip flops and sandals take up a lot of space in our closets in Florida. This is a fact of life when you live in a place that is consistently hot. Many of us wear sandals and flip flops all year round.
A lot of people experience intense heel pain and the reasoning behind this may seem unrelated to the Florida lifestyle, but it in fact is.
This is not about ruining your fun. In hot and humid weather, wearing good open-toed shoes is certainly more preferable to damp, sweaty shoes. Although we here at Associated Foot and Ankle Care want you to know the facts.
Your Feet Require Support
Despite how fashionable barefoot or minimalist shoes have become in some circles, you have to keep in mind that most “comfortable” shoes on the market come with solid arch support, cushioning, and a moderate heel-to-toe drop.
According to science, your feet should support you naturally, cushion your steps, and minimize pressure on you. In addition, we’re accustomed to walking on surfaces that are a lot harder and flatter than those our forefathers did hundreds of years ago. Concrete, hard wood, and stone tile have replaced grass, clay, and dirt.
Of course, today’s people are taller and heavier on average than those that came before us. So that adds even more pressure on the heels.
How Flip Flops and Bare Feet Lead to Heel Pain
The heat makes heel pain that much worse. What person wants to spend all day in sweaty shoes when flip flops are so convenient?
Wearing flip flops every day can cause some big problems. Obviously, they lack any kind of arch support whatsoever, so they can’t provide any shock absorption for your feet. Therefore the impact is mainly taken by your feet themselves.
The way you walk can be affected negatively by walking in flip flops as well. Whether you realize it or not, you probably end up taking shorter, shuffling steps to prevent your footwear from slipping right off your feet. An increase in heel pain is linked to this change in foot position and alignment, along with discomfort in the knees and back.
In 2020, there has been an increased trend of people going barefoot or just wearing socks. Due to COVID-19 concerns and the shift to working from home, many of us are spending more time indoors than usual. The majority of us do not wear shoes indoors either. You can also experience more heel pain if you spend less time in shoes overall.
How can we solve this problem? Is it necessary to give up my flip flops forever?
While we wouldn’t say you should toss your flip flops in the trash, you should understand that they should be used sparingly, specifically when needed.
If your plan is to just lounge around by the pool or beach for the day? Well, flip flops should be fine. In that instance, you probably won’t be walking for very long or standing for long periods of time, and using just a thin layer of protection on your feet will help you avoid injuries or infections more easily than going totally barefoot.
Nevertheless, if you plan on doing any more exercise or walking, even if it’s just a short stroll around the block, you should use something more supportive. It’s OK to wear open-toed shoes, but you should insist on good shoes!
So Here’s a few Things to keep in mind:
- A pair of comfortable sandals with solid arch support is a must. When walking farther than a few steps to the backyard or the bathroom, avoid thin, flimsy, or flat sandals.
- Having an adjustable heel strap ensures that your sandals stay firmly in place and that you can walk confidently without causing biomechanical issues.
- The vast majority of people prefer slightly raised heels over completely flat or “zero drop” sandals. In most cases, this can be achieved by having the part of the sole under the heel be thicker than the part under the ball of the foot and the toes.
- Grips are important! Choose sandals with a rubber outsole and good traction if you plan to walk a lot on different types of terrain.
- In addition to providing protection and support for your toes and ankles, it is paramount that your sandals offer more support and protection as you become more active. When hiking or cruising in cities, you might consider sandals with closed-toes or with extra shoulder and ankle straps (especially at the ankle).
Don’t Let Heel Pain Hold You Back
Wear a comfortable pair of supportive sandals or shoes instead of flip-flops if your heels are bothering you.
In the event that your pain persists even after switching footwear, call our office. There is almost always a non-surgical solution to heel pain within a couple of months, but sometimes it takes a professional evaluation and treatment to identify the primary causes of discomfort (and therefore the appropriate treatment protocol).