Can Lack of Arch Support in Sandals and Flip Flops Cause Foot and Leg Problems!
Spring Signals the Beginning of Sandal and Flip Flop Season
If you’re a skier, you are probably not wondering when the first day of spring is, for those of you who have forgotten, it is March 2oth. So, warm weather followers start organizing your shoe closet and start moving your sandals and flip flops to the front of the line. Everyone still traveling to warm weather vacation spots to get away from the remaining month of winter is way ahead of the game. In many parts of the world it is always sandal and flip flop season. If you’re traveling or live in warm climates such as South Florida, Mexico, Southern California, The Caribbean or Hawaii, sandals and flip flops are always the comfort footwear of choice. Warm climates means your feet will have plenty of opportunity to spread out and not be encumbered in closed shoes. However, your feet will still take a beating because of the lack of support sandals and flip flops provide. Whether shopping all day, working long hours, sightseeing while on vacation or dancing all night long wearing sandals or flip flops can translate into a whole lot of foot and leg problems if you wear them all day long.
Common Problems from Wearing Sandals and Flip Flops
As a podiatrist, the most common problems that I see in my office during sandal and flip flop season are tired feet, arch cramps, muscle spasms, calluses on the heel and ball of the foot, blisters on the toes and lower leg pain such as shin splints.
Blisters on the toes can occur while wearing sandals because the foot is sliding forward and there is too much friction between the top of the toes and the top of the sandal. Calluses can form on the bottom of the heel because friction too, side to side movement of the heel against the sandal will cause a thick callus to form. If there is too much build up of tissue the skin can crack or fissure causing heel pain. Calluses can also form on the balls of the feet because of friction and can be very painful. Using moisturizing creams with exfoliating agents and Urea will definitely help reduce the skin problems in the heel.
“Shop till you drop takes on a whole new meaning”
Shopping all day or standing on your feet for hours wears you out and results in tired feet, arch cramps, muscle spasms and shin splints. This can be lumped into one cause, abnormal pronation where the arch excessively collapses during the normal gait cycle. This leads to the muscles in the arch of the foot and lower leg to fatigue and tire because of the increased stress resulting in an overuse phenomenon causing foot and lower leg pain. The trigger is wearing non supportive sandals or flips flops. Ouch!
So, the type of foot structure one has, whether it is a high arched or flat foot can cause vulnerability and problems when wearing flip flops or sandals. Women and men who have high arches may be more susceptible because of a more pronounced arch angle in their foot, therefore placing increased pressure on the ball of the foot and arch. However, a flat foot which indicates that the arch of the foot has collapsed will also cause their share of problems. Arch pain, tired feet, cramping and joint discomfort in the foot are just a few symptoms experienced after long hours on your feet. Biomechanically speaking the foot is unstable and slides around when walking in those types of shoe wear. Toes will curl downward and try to grab the ground because of the instability in the joints of the foot. The muscles in the front of the lower leg will fire continuously and eventually fatigue and become tight and sore.
First Aid for Feet…..Sandal and Flip Flop Solutions
Supportive arch supports such as custom orthotics is the best way to control foot function during the normal gait cycle when wearing sandals and flip flops. The problem is finding an arch support that can fit into a flat sandal, flip flop or dress sandals. There are arch support products available that can stick on sandals or flip flops and provide the needed support to make those types of footwear foot friendly.
To treat arch pain, joint pain, muscle soreness or cramps after a long day of standing on your feet use topical homeopathic anti inflammatory creams or gels such as Traumel®. Ice therapy can also be very affective to calm down acute foot problems. There are gel insoles products that can be frozen or placed in a microwave to take the edge off very quickly.
Sandals and flip flops are worn by thousands daily; wearing ones that are cute, stylish and supportive will allow you to walk ” happily ever after in style and pain free”.