Friday, July 27, 2007
The issue of flip-flopping
I recently spent some time at the beach, trading a suit and high heels for shorts and flip flops. When I returned home my feet and lower legs were killing me. It didn't take an expert to figure out that the cute sandals were to blame.

Apparently, I'm not the only one complaining about the trendy footwear. Podiatrists are seeing more and more patients with pain in the Achilles tendon, heel and balls of their feet. One doctor attributes most of the problems to the increased use of sandals and flip flops. The thin-soled shoes don't have the proper arch support and cushioning to protect the feet.

For those of you who aren't willing to compromise on comfort and style, there are some ways to relieve the pain. Stretching your calves can help sore feet and leg muscles. Ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications might provide temporary relief as well.

The best treatment might be to choose a better type of sandal. Find one with good arch support and cushioning and a little bit of a heel. A 1/2 - to 3/8-inch lift will help keep the calf muscle flexible and reduce that aches and pains.

My feet and legs are feeling much better these days, but I can't help thinking I'd rather be walking on the beach in my flip flops than sitting at my cubicle in high heels.

Do you have a flip flop story to share or some advice?
Unfortunately, I have the same problem. I LOVE my flip flops - my doctor laughs at me because he knows as soon as it's above 55, I'll have them on, and not remove them until October (I live in Virginia) - but I have had incredible pain this year because of my flip flops. I have bursitis in my heel. It's agonizing, especially since I walk daily (in my flips, of course) though I have found that the new "Crocs" flip flops (and similar styles) are great for cushioning, I fear I'll have to wear SHOES sometime....If only they could make flip flops with real support, and just as much fun. I would wear them daily (Oh, I already do) I can't wear cheap ones anymore, nor can I wear anything but a flat heel - but I must admit ibuprofen and calf stretches help. So does an understanding doctor!
I'm one of those people who wear flip-flops as their regular shoe (except for having to wear nice shoes at work), and just lately I have been noticing more and more how painful they are. I'm finding myself having to stretch almost every night just to be able to get to sleep without calf and thigh cramps. It's actually been a concern of mine for a couple of months now and found this blog helpful.
I don't have a flip flop story, I know better than to subject my feet to that kind of pain! But I do have some advice, based on personal experience. My job entails walking and standing on a concrete floor for 8 plus hrs a day. I had difficulty finding a pair of shoes or sneakers that supported and protected my feet. There was a point in time that I couldn't wait to get home and get the shoes off, only to find out that my feet hurt so bad that I couldn't even walk around with nothing on them! After injuring my knee and having subsequent surgery, the person that fitted me for my knee brace told me about Merrell shoes, and claimed that they were the best shoes for people with orthopedic problems. It has been over two years since I have worn them consistently to work, my feet feel great and I can now walk around bare foot without feeling pain. Merrells come in many different styles and they do make sandals, I would suggest them to any one who is having problems with their feet. Your're going to pay some good money for them, but they are worth every penny and are also available in many outlet stores.
My husband is a Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist and he says that it is actually the lack of a strap around the heal that causes the foot to overwork and cause the pain (and potential injury). With flip-flops you are using your toes to "hang on" to the shoe every time you walk. Looking for more arch support is not the answer. In fact, he says that your feet were designed amazingly well to work barefoot. Shoes became necessary for warmth and/or protection. No support (ie, flat shoes) with a strap or material around the heal to hold the shoe in place is the way to prevent pain.
I encourage you to investigate "Muscle Activation Techniques" to learn other ways your body compensates, causing injury - my husbands website is
I've worn flip flops during the summer all of my 46 years of life.
I loved them b/c they are inexpensive (those are the ones i now wish i had stayed away from) and easy to wear.
I never really heard anything negative about them like we do now.
It was one year ago today in the month of July that i was shopping at a large mall with my "comfy" flip flops". I was on my feet for hours.
When i got home, i had some pain in the arch of my foot.
I proceeded to wear my supportive Brooks running shoes for the next few days to help soothe the arch and make my foot feel better. It always worked for me in the past when i had over done the flip flops.
Not this time.
The pain persisted.
The swelling became extreme and i ended up in the orhtopedic dr.s office.
I spent 5 weeks in a boot type cast and on anti-inflammatories as well.
At the end of 5 weeks, the pain and swelling was gone and i thought i was healed!
I stayed away from the flip flops and only wore my good supportive shoes.
The pain and swelling was back in 2 weeks.
I saw 2 different dr.s just for the matter of having a second opinion.
I tried insoles to support my arch.
I bought very good (Earth) sandals and flip flops which today are the only shoes i can wear b/c of the excellent arch support.
It has been a year now and i have been in and out of the cast and on and off of medications.
I've done exercises and stretches, and after x-rays and a final MRI, i have been diagnosed with a torn ligament, terribly stretched and torn tendon along the arch of my foot and somewhat of a fallen arch.
All b/c of years of wearing stupid, cheap flip flops.
After my vacation to the beach in August, i will have surgery done to repair the ligament, tendon and to cut the back of my heal and put a screw in it to hold my foot correctly.
I will be on crutches for 4 weeks, a cast for 4 weeks and corrective insoles for 4 weeks.
All the while trying to run my business and my household.
I hope that people will take this report seriously.
Cheap flip flops RUIN your feet.
Thank God it is only 1 of mine.
There are lots of GOOD, supportive flip flops out there.
Earth and Privo and Birkenstocks are all good.
Earths have the BEST arch support!
If only i had had this article to read years ago.
I would not be facing this surgery
and the severe pain that i endure now.
Your feet are way to important.
I cannot do normal things that i should be able to do in a day b/c of the pain and swelling.
Burn the cheap, flat flip flops!
Buy well made shoes that fit.
Take care of your feet and they'll take care of you.
kim : )
Personally I love "Earth-Shoes". They're nice looking, trendy enough (though I could actually care less), and they've got arch support. After hanging out on the beach though, you end up with a really interesting tan on your feet.

As for "beach vs. cube"? Oh yes- I'll join you on the beach!
I've found a rather odd flip-flop story:

It's not so much to do with stressed muscles as poor manufacturing of Chinese products which are sold at WalMart - it would appear from the photographs to be second degree chemical burns.

Can you comment on the veracity of this story or if this is possible?
I have a comment~question which involves Flip-flopping !

How can any good argument stand up in a court, arguing that Tobacco not be schedualed as a Schedule I drug ?

Schedule I drugs
Findings required:

(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
When it comes to a drug that is currently listed in schedule I, if it is undisputed that such drug has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and it is further undisputed that the drug has at least some potential for abuse sufficient to warrant control under the CSA, the drug must remain in schedule I. In such circumstances, placement of the drug in schedules II through V would conflict with the CSA since such drug would not meet the criterion of "a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States." 21 USC 812(b)

I wish I had a video camera so I could submit these questions to the CNN/Youtube Presidential debate.

1.) Does Tobacco qualify under the Findings required to be classified as a Schedule I drug ?
2.) Should Tobacco and Marijuana fall under similar shedualing by the DEA ?
3.) Would you support either raising Tobacco to the same schedual as Marijuana or
keep Tobacco as it is, and reschedual Marijuana to match Tobacco's legal classification ?

Perhaps a reader who does have a video camera could ask the candidates my question for me?
I was having some moderate aches & pains from walking long distances in flip flops & started asking around for supportive sandals. I was told about Chacos which I've found to be the perfect solution. They come in a variety of colors & styles and have been awarded the seal of acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association. The straps are completely adjustable and there's no velcro that gets worn out over time. They have flip flop styles, too, but I got the ones with straps that go behind the heel as well as over the top of the foot. They're more sandal than your typical flip flop, but not so much that your feet feel confined. You can find them at stores like REI or online. They certainly cost more money, but they're worth it and you can even get them resoled when they wear out.
I can't stand flip flops because I hate having to hang onto the darn thing with just my toes. It actually makes my feet tired because of that. Plus I don't like the rubbing it causes between my toes (I've developed blisters before). Give me real sandals or athletic shoe anyday!
I think the key to anything is "moderation". I wear flip flops all the time but I know better then to wear them on a long hike. I wore good supportive walking shoes to Disney World and anytime I'm going to be walking a great distance, that is just basic common sense. I wear strappy sandles to work during the summer (with a heal) but when I get home the flip flops go on. I have broken my left foot 3 times and I have discovered that if I wear a pair of flip flops around the house when I do run my foot into something the flip flop takes the brunt of the force saving me from hopefully another break. If you have normal feet (no serious foot problems) I think just using common sense and wearing them when it is appropriate will cut down considerably on the foot problems. I don't think shleping around the mall is a good place to wear them - the pool, however, yes.
Forget the arch support and the cushioning. I like running, and suffered for thirty years from increasingly painful knees and hips, and lengthy periods (sometimes more than a year) of plantar fasciitis, even when just walking. I tried all the ideas about arch support and cushioning, to no effect.

Then, searching the web in desperation for a cure, I found They asked a simple question: how is it that these problems are almost unknown in those parts of the world where most people go barefoot all the time?

That was a convincing argument to me, so I tried it. Ten years later I've never had a recurrence of plantar fasciitis, and all my joints are fine. At 65 I'm still running and enjoying it without pain. I had to completely relearn how to run though, which subtly changed my walking style too.

But if you don't want to harden your feet, which takes time and patience, or you're worried about the (ridiculous) social stigma of going barefoot in the street, there is at least one shoe on the market now which really is as close to a barefoot experience as you can get. Take a look at You'll be a fashion leader, and people will stop you in the street to ask about them. (No, I have no financial interest in the company). More importantly, they will force you to walk much more as nature intended: barefoot, without pain.

By the way, forget too all that nonsense about barefooters getting fungal diseases. They grow in dark moist places like shoes. You're much more likely to pick up an infection from your hands (we shake hands, not feet). And we tend to stick our fingers in our mouths, ears and noses. If you can do that with your feet you're in good shape!
Rainbow flip flops are the best. I wear them all the time (except of course when I am at work) and my feet/heels never ever hurt. They cost about $50 a pair, but they last forever and do not kill your feet!
I love my cushy Tevas -- I could wear them all the time, and now that I am living in LA I do (except for work). However, I stay far away from those thin cheap things that feel like nothing more than a piece of cardboard strapped to your foot. If you're wearing a shoe as minimally constructed as a flip-flop, name brand durability and engineering is better than spending four dollars at Target.
Some suggestions for comfortable sandals with arch support are Birkenstocks. There are other brands known for good foot beds and although more expensive, may be well worth a try. Birkenstocks also last a very long time. Be sure to get fitted properly.
BOY, Let me tell you about flip flops...THEY ARE VERY DANGEROUS...about 2 summers ago I fell down my steps wearing the cheap flip flops that i thought were so cute. I BROKE ,DISLOCATED, AND MY ANKLE BONE WENT THROUGH THE SKIN !! All in a matter of 2 seconds. I totally blame the flip flops . I've had 2 surgeries and lots of therapy.Now at 42 I HAVE ARTHRITIS,BUT NO MORE PAIN(only when it rains) and I CAN WALK.I'll NEVER wear flip flops again. To all you girls be careful.
I'll be turning 45 next month, and for decades I've only worn shoes of any type when required by either the weather or the law. For many of those years, I've worn flip-flops. My feet and Achilles tendons are in great shape.

Possibly the flip-flop wearers mentioned are having problems because they're used to wearing shoes with heels and now their calf muscles and Achilles tendons are being stretched back into their normal position due to flip-flops being flat. Or, possibly, their flip-flops don't fit correctly (the strap should fit snugly over the foot so you don't have to grab on with your toes all the time) and, as some comments have said, they're overworking their feet.

The human foot is admirably designed for walking around without shoes. Billions of people throughout the world walk barefoot and -- unlike the victims of our heal-wearing, toe-confining, fungus-farming foot fashions -- their feet are in excellent health. We need more flip-flops!
I haven't worn flip flops since I was a kid. I hated them and preferred to go barefoot. I still do.

What I don't understand is why women who work in a professional environment think flip flops you would wear to a beach are a good match with business attire.
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