As the summer heat and humidity is upon us, we do everything that we can in order to stay cool and relax which includes slipping into our favorite pair of flip-flops or sandals to help let those feet breathe and be comfortable. But, the choice in your footwear during this time of the year could not only have a negative impact on your feet and ankles but your knees and back as well.
The average American takes over 5,000 steps per day and using improper footwear to beat the heat can cause degenerative effects to the joints and soft tissues in your feet over time. The use of flip-flops or sandals causes you to compromise your body’s foundation and as a result your gait, joint movement, circulation and proprioceptive input (balance) are altered.
A study from the Institute of Preventative Foot Health showed that 78% of adults developed foot pain at one time or another. Ideally, shoes should provide comfort, support and protection for the entire foundation. If your shoes are lacking in one or more of these categories, it could not only lead to abnormal stresses on your back but continued usage of improper footwear could be slowly undoing your spinal positioning after your adjustment.
One of the important concepts of proper footwear is support of the arches. This includes the medial, lateral and longitudinal arches which can be assessed with a functional scanner by your podiatrist or someone who specializes in orthotics. (We like Dr. Schneider at Tanglewood Foot Specialists)
If one of these arches is not supported then conditions such as plantar fascitis can occur due to increased tightening of the calves or front leg muscles (tibialis anterior). The use of orthotics or being fitted for footwear designed for your arches will help to eliminate problems at your body’s foundation to allow for normal motion up the kinetic chain and add stability to your entire framework.
Companies like FitFlop and OrthaHeel offer custom orthotic footwear, including orthotic sandals which are recommended for optimal support should you choose to wear a more minimal shoe. Foot Levelers also recently introduced a Seabreeze custom orthotic flip-flop, which offers all the fashion and comfort of regular flip-flops but in a healthier model. Basic models of sandals or flip-flops should only be worn for short periods of time whether it be by the pool or on the beach.
High-quality, supportive footwear, ideally with support for all three of the foot’s arches, gives the body a healthy and solid foundation that is less likely to experience biomechanical problems and is more receptive to chiropractic care. So, choose those summer shoes wisely and keep those feet happy and healthy.