Shoes that Cause Foot Pain
4 Shoes that Wreck Your Body
They may be your favorite things to slip on as soon as the weather gets warm, but flip-flops aren't as foot-friendly as you might think. Here's why:
Scrunch time. Only a thin strap and your bunched toes keep flip-flops from coming off. That constant grip makes it impossible for your arch to flex normally, which in turn compromises the way your forefoot pushes off when you step forward. (Search: What's the right way to walk?) Deprived of a powerful push-off, our testers compensated by using their hips, forcing their knees and hips to absorb more impact. In addition, your butt and the backs of your legs are less engaged in your stride, weakening those muscles over time, says Katy Bowman, a biomechanical scientist and the author of Every Woman's Guide to Foot Pain Relief.
Short steppin'. Wearing flip-flops shortens your gait, so you can't expect to get very far very fast in them. Eventually your shortened stride may lead to lower-body fatigue, which in turn may make you more inclined to hop in a cab or get in your car rather than hoof it, says Philip J. Vasyli, a podiatrist and the founder of the orthotic company Vasyli International.
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Stretch it out. To help your toes recover from the stress of being clenched, stretch the muscles along the top of the foot, says Bowman. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then place one foot behind you, turning the tops of your toes to the floor. Try to keep both knees straight, stand tall, and don't let your ankle roll out to the side as you stretch. Start by holding the stretch for a few seconds on each side (your foot might cramp initially because it's not used to stretching this way), and work up to 60 seconds on each side.
If you can't fathom going through a flip-flop-less summer, opt for a more structured pair. Look for a contoured arch that fits to the shape of your foot (brands to buy: Chaco, Reef, Orthaheel, and Dansko, all of which have the American Podiatric Medical Association's seal of acceptance) rather than the flimsy corner-drugstore ones that look like they're stamped out of a piece of rubber.
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