Experts Link Increased Incidence of Heel Pain to Flip-Flops

When the sun is shining and the temperature is rising, what better way to celebrate summer than to slather on some sunscreen, grab a towel and a cheesy novel, slide on your flip-flops and head out to the beach? No problem with that, but when flip-flops become your preferred choice of footwear, you may be exposing yourself to a common foot complaint—heel pain.

When considering bad footwear, you are most likely to think of stilettoes with high heels and pointy toes; few people know that flip-flops are also bad for your feet. According to Scott Schumacher, president of the B.C. Association of Podiatrists, who was quoted in an article in The Star Phoenix on www2.canada.com, "They're light, they're airy, they are cool, and they are not good for walking."

Flip-flops lack support and can aggravate existing biomechanical problems. People wearing flip-flops tend to shuffle rather than lift their legs as they swing their feet forward and they scrunch their toes to hold the flip-flops on. This results in a tendency to take shorter steps so the heels hit the ground with less vertical force.

This is particularly disastrous for teenagers who are still growing new bone in their heels; this growth plate is where the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia attach. Force is put on this connective tissue as we walk; increased force from wearing flip-flops results in heel pain. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, because the growth plate is a weak point, flip-flop-wearing teenagers are more likely to report heel pain.

Heel pain is not the only foot problem caused by flip-flops; increased shear stress may result in corns and callus. Lack of cushioning may cause bursitis (inflammation around the joints) and spreading of the forefoot may lead to a neuroma (nerve inflammation).

If you are experiencing heel pain, you should visit your Toronto podiatrist who may recommend exercises, orthotics, laser or soundwave treatments. Meanwhile, you might want to reconsider your choice of footwear.

Resources:

The Star Phoenix – Flip-Flop Fuss – by Jenny Lee, Vancouver Sun
http://www2.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/news/story.html?id=79b96f91-419b-440e-80d0-9ca43ca83d3b

How to Treat and Beat Plantar Fasciitis – Kelly O’Mara
http://running.competitor.com/2014/03/injury-prevention/how-to-treat-and-beat-plantar-fasciitis_97607