As we come into summer many of you will be looking forward to banishing your winter boots to the cupboard in favour of flip flops, however are your flip flops more flop than flip?

Here at the Hub we love summer and whilst flip flops are great for keeping your feet nice and cool and are ideal for the beach and around the pool we don’t recommend walking in them for a prolonged period or on a sustained basis. Let’s give a little thought to what your flip-flops do to your musculoskeletal system if you’re wearing them too much…

Researchers at Auburn University have found wearing flip flops changes the way we walk. The Auburn team videotaped 39 flip flop wearing volunteers and noted that they scrunched their toes to keep their flip flops on their foot and took shorter steps. It is this altered gait that can wreak havoc on our musculoskeletal system and result in foot pain to knee pain, hip pain and lower back pain.

Griping your toes alters the mechanics of your foot and can prevent optimal pronation; the spreading and opening of all the joints of your foot as it comes into contact with the ground allowing for the absorption of forces and appropriate force transference up your body as you walk. Equally, the lack of arch support in a flip flop can cause excessive pronation or lack of supination; the foot’s ability to raise the foot arch. It is this movement that ‘locks’ your foot and allows for efficient and effective forward propulsion and appropriate transmission of forces as you walk.

Taking in to account the distance the average Londoner walks on a normal working day, these changes in gait and the altered biomechanics resulting from flip flop use can easily lead to repetitive stresses on muscles and joints predisposing us to injuries that can last way beyond the summer months.

We’re not saying that you should never wear a flip flop ever again… let’s face it they are brilliant to slip on when on holiday by the pool or on the beach. However, if you’re out and about, walking to work or site seeing – go for a sandal a sandal or shoe that supports more of the foot.

The ideal? Look for a sandal that not only supports the front of your foot but also the back of your foot and ankle, this will negate the need to have to grip with your toes in order to keep your flip flop on your foot.

If you do find yourself suffering from “flip flop overuse” or you’re in need of a biomechanical assessment book an osteopathy appointment with one of our registered Clapham osteopaths at The Hub.

Rebecca Sheldon

Registered Osteopath

Hub is an integrated health & fitness clinic in the heart of Clapham, located next to Clapham Common underground station, on Venn Street. Hub is easily accessible for patients coming from; Clapham, Battersea, Balham, Tooting, Brixton, Wandsworth, Putney and Stockwell.

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