By WIN Contributor: Dr. Nicholas Slowinski, Chiropractor

Are you enjoying this summer weather and outdoor fun while sporting your trusty flip flops?

Do you have a well worn pair that you’ve pounded into the pavement until there is almost nothing left between the bottom of your foot and the ground?  … Or perhaps a pair that are a favourite for vacations, maybe even a pair that as seen several sunny seasons of day to day activities …. I digress, we all know the sandals I’m talking about….

They might look like this….

Or maybe you “splurged” a bit and got the name brand like the one seen here…

Flip flops are a sure sign of summer, but your favourite summer footwear might cause you more harm than good.  There can be a relationship between flip-flops and lower leg discomfort that we often see with our patients especially during this season.

This lower leg discomfort is often the result of the human machine being wicked efficient!  That is to say, if something isn’t working perfectly our brain finds a way to compensate for the altered movement…. which sounds really cool, until it decides to rear its ugly head as something we often refer to as a lower kinetic chain dysfunction. This sort of problem can appear differently in each individual and take on several forms such as plantar fasciitis, ankle or foot pain, calf pain, hip pain, etc.

If you’re wondering how wearing a shoe could have such a big impact on how you move…the reason is your gripping to tightly…and not the good kind of grip that we’ve discussed in previous blogs! I mean the grip you make with your toes every time you take a step in your thong sandals!

Research has shown that when we wear our flip flops there is an increase in the muscles which cause us to curl our toes, such as the flexor hallucis longus, and flexor digitorum longus. This increased muscle activation comes from the wearer’s attempt to grip the flip flop during the swing phase of our gait.

This means that every time you take a step you need to squeeze your toes to make sure your sandal stays in place. Over time this can lead to repetitive strain type injuries, which ultimately could effect how the whole lower leg operates.

As important as it is to stay trendy and cool in the summer, its even more important to take care of what holds us up….our feet!  As always, if you have questions about your footwear or if your experiencing any lower leg issues, it’s my pleasure to assist you at WIN Health Solutions.  We can discuss your question and review options that are a good fit to resolve your concerns.