June 29, 2018
Flip-flops are certainly the official shoe of summer. They’re cool, comfortable and often stylish. But they can also lead to some serious back pain, especially if you already have lumbar pain, sciatica or a back injury. Does this mean you can’t wear flip-flops? Not necessarily. Read on for some suggestions from a chiropractor on how to look good for summer and avoid back pain.
What’s the Problem with Flip-Flops?
The same characteristics that make flip-flops appealing during warm summer months also make them less than ideal if you have back pain. Yes, they’re easy to put on and take off. And they’re open so your hot tootsies stay cool. But easy on and off means absolutely no foot and ankle support, and open shoes increase the risk of tripping or falling—both of which can lead to back injury.
Furthermore, wearing flip-flops causes you to walk differently than when you wear closed shoes. To keep flip-flops on your feet, you have to pinch or curl your toes, which shortens your stride. This can put a strain on your feet, hips and lower back muscles.
In addition, when you walk in flip-flops you put more pressure on the outside edges of your feet rather than on your heels. This can lead to a minor rotation of your lower legs that changes the angle of your pelvis and the curve of your spine. You may not notice these slight changes, but nevertheless they can lead to pain and stiffness in your lower back.
How Can I Wear Flip-Flops and Avoid Back Pain?
The most important step you can take while wearing flip-flops is not to take too many steps while wearing flip-flops. They do serve a purpose in locker rooms, around the house or a quick dash to the beach. However, don’t wear flip-flops on a long walk or when you’ll be on your feet for a long time. They’re just too flimsy and unsupportive.
Flip-flops are definitely not meant to be worn for running, jumping or any kind of activity that requires quick sideways movements such as a game of tennis. They just don’t offer enough support or shock absorption.
If you do experience back pain while wearing flip-flops, stop! Continuing to walk means your body must compensate for the pain by putting strain on other muscles and joints.
Instead, exchange the flip-flops for more supportive shoes and apply a cold compress to alleviate back pain.
What Can I Wear Instead?
There are a few cool and comfortable alternatives to flip-flops that are better for your feet and help you avoid back pain. Foam clogs offer good support, cushioning and a stiff sole. They’re about as lightweight as flip-flops, and you don’t have to curl your toes to keep them on.
There are also a number of good sport sandals on the market, too. These are a cross between sneakers and sandals. Try on a few different pair to see which one feels best on your feet and allow you to walk comfortably.
If you are experiencing back pain—whether from wearing flip-flops too much or another reason—contact a chiropractor. There are treatment options to relieve your discomfort.
Meet the Doctor
Dr. Wills provides chiropractic care in Naples, FL. For pain management, he offers chiropractic treatments, therapeutic exercise, weight loss and management, soft tissue therapy and strengthening and rehabilitation. To get in contact with Dr. Wills, click here.
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