Everyone is wearing flip flops these days; they’re light, loose, easy and inexpensive and show off our (hopefully pedicured) toes. But, unfortunately, they are also horrible for our feet. (Don’t get me started on the fashion consequences).
Researchers at Auburn University found that wearing flip flops alters the way we walk, leading to serious sole, heel and ankle problems. Compared to people wearing runners, researchers found that flip flop devotees take shorter steps and increase the workload on the muscles of the feet. This can lead to eventual foot pain and chronic foot issues like plantar fasciitis and arch strains.
Our feet are intricate contraptions. Case in point, the foot and ankle contain 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Our feet act as the foundation for the rest of our body and they provide us with support, balance and mobility. Thus, if there is any pain or tension in our feet we will eventually feel it everywhere else.
5 Tips For Flip Flop Users
- Occasional flip flop use is OK, just don’t make them your everyday walking shoes. For that purpose, invest in a pair of good quality shoes that provide support.
- Spread your toes by Interlacing your fingers between each digit. In every yoga class I teach there is at least one student in the class who cannot spread their toes. Can you imagine the restrictive footwear they must be squeezing into and the resulting tension they are holding in their feet? If this describes you, sit on the floor and insert your fingers between your toes every day to give your toe muscles a much-need stretch.
- Use a tennis ball to massage the soles of your feet. Standing, put one foot on top of a tennis ball. Start to roll the ball underneath your foot. You may find some pressure points that feel really good (or bad), so take a few moments and relieve your foot of any tension it’s been holding. Make sure to breathe deeply and feel your feet coming back to life.
- Take 10 minutes, and lie down on the floor with your legs up against a wall. This position does wonders for your feet and legs by draining fluids built-up in the blood vessels and lymphatic channels of the legs. It’s quick and easy and helps shift energy back into the body. Click here for directions on how to do this wonderful pose.
- Take a yoga class. It does wonders for your feet — especially standing poses. Your feet act as the base for all poses and serve as the connection to the earth. Yoga helps us have proper foot alignment by evenly distributing the weight between each foot. This will help the positioning, functioning and flow of energy through the rest of our body.
Michelle Uy is a certified yoga teacher and owner of LoveActionYoga. She is co-creator of the Eat Well, Feel Well Program, a yoga and nutrition program, and she is also certified to teach Yoga Thrive, a therapeutic yoga program for cancer survivors.