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Flip Flops Can Cause Back Pain

April 17, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 285

As summer approaches, many people are eager to put their warm weather footwear back into circulation. Before deciding to spend every day of the summer in flip flops, consider the possible implications that choice could have for your ankles, legs and lower back.

There are a few key problem areas with flip flops that make them unideal for everyday use:

No Arch Support

Your average pair of flip flops is flat; the arch of your foot is not supported. This leaves your foot more likely to roll inward when you step, which is called overpronation. Overpronation interferes with the efficiency of your step. When you take a proper step with your arch maintained, your weight is transferred to your large toes which push off the ground to move you forward. When the arch flattens out, your weight is concentrated on the inside edge of the big toe, which can't produce the same push-off power. Your hips and lower back muscles will compensate for this loss of power by helping to swing the leg forward. If these muscles are working more than they should with every step, they can become strained and sore.

No Ankle Support

Normal footwear comes with backing that helps to keep your ankle from rolling in and out. If your ankle is not held straight as you walk, the angle of all of the joints up to the back are altered. If the ankle rolls inward, for example, the calf bone (fibula) pushes outward on the knee and the thigh bone (femur) pushes inward on the hip. This angling of joints can cause joint pain and muscle strain, since muscles can't be used efficiently if their lengths and tensions are changed.

Another danger of the lack of ankle support is spraining your ankle.

No Stability

The thong design of flip flops doesn't afford them much stability. All you have holding the shoe on is a small strap between two toes. To keep the shoe on, you must clench your toes. This leads to a shorter stride and a change in body mechanics similar to what we see with overpronation, since the toes aren't as available to push off the ground when clenched. Also, the muscles of the foot and calf are working overtime to keep the toes clenched.

The upper and lower body are intricately connected by both the web of muscles and ligaments that stretch through the hips and the chain reaction set off by events of the lower body. A change in one joint angle affects the rest up to the pelvis. The pelvis is the base of the back and connects to the spine through the sacroiliac joints. This is why something as simple as clenching your toes or pronating can lead to lower back pain; any change in pelvic tension or alignment transfers easily to the lower back.

Ergonomic Flip Flops?

Some flip flop designers have taken the above concerns into consideration. There are now flip flops available that have arch supports, heel seats and raised toe areas. You can view a number of designs here: The arch support protects against overpronation and the contour of the sole increases stability. The heel seat may encourage ankle alignment to a slight extent, but not nearly as much as a shoe with backing.

Flip flops are not ideal for everyday wearing. Short-term use, such as on the beach or taking out the garbage, is generally harmless, but prolonged use will likely lead to lower back and lower body pain. If you can't stomach the thought of a summer without your favorite type of shoe, invest in ergonomic flip flops and wear wisely. A long day of walking or physical activity merits more stable footwear.

Education in back pain is the cheapest form of self preservation. Learn about what causes back pain and 4 things that cause sciatic nerve pain.

Source: EzineArticles
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