DR. WAYNE M. FICHTER JR.: Flip-flops — What is the big fuss?

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Minimalist footwear is the newest craze, and flip-flops seem to fall under this umbrella. Flip-flops have single handedly caused more problems with people’s feet in the last couple years than just about any other shoe. But why are flip-flops so bad?

The problem with flip-flops is that they do not hold the shoe to your foot like most footwear, so we use muscles and tendons to grip onto the shoe. Many companies are boasting the benefit of their shoes because they can tone and firm the hamstrings by increasing the demand on the foot, leg and thigh. More muscle involvement isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The real issue is that excessive wearing of flip-flops has been linked to foot pain. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons in 2006, increased usage of flip-flop sandals by teens and young adults has led to an increase in heel pain.

Lack of arch support and cushioning of the heel seems to exacerbate any abnormalities in foot motion and may increase inflammation and heel pain. It is important to note that heel pain is often a marker of plantar fasciitis, which accounts for 15 percent of all adult foot complaints.

What can you do to prevent it? Wear shoes with good arch support, heel cushioning and room for movement of your toes. Many foot problems can be avoided by wearing properly fitted shoes. Many people wear shoes that are too small or narrow. If you are suffering with plantar fasciitis, wearing shoes with a slight heel and using ice daily can be helpful. A simple way to ice your foot is by freezing a disposable water bottle and then place it under the arch of your foot. Slowly roll your foot back and forth for several minutes. This will help stretch out the tendons which can aid in a quicker recovery.

The average person makes more than 15,000 steps per day. Amazing! The amount of force that passes through your feet each time you take a step is equivalent to approximately three-and-a-half times your body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, your feet absorb more than 500 pounds of pressure with every step.

Foot imbalances have been shown to have a direct influence on the mechanics of the knee, balance and spinal posture. Excessive pronation is shown to be present in nearly 95 percent of adults. No wonder your feet are aching!

So what can you do? You may benefit from a custom orthotic device that would allow your foot to move through its full range of motion while blocking excessive pronation. At Natural Spine Solutions we will provide recommendations for treatment based on your current needs and refer you for custom orthotics if that is needed at this time. Call 208-966-4425 to schedule an appointment.

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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene, 208-966-4425.

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