Healthy Feet Tip #3 – Ditch Flip Flops

Today’s Healthy Feet Tip is one that not many people like to hear because people love flip flops. I understand that flips flops are easy to slip on and great for warm weather and the beach however wearing flip flops has significant negative effects on the health of the feet.

Katy Bowman does a great job of explaining how flip flops cause the feet to grip with each step. This gripping action causes tiny fractures of the feet thus setting yourself up for several foot related foot problems/issues, like bunions. Read more about How Flip Flops Change Your Feet to learn more.

Adding a strap around the heel can change the negative effects of flip flops on the feet.

On a recent visit to Target, I saw that they had several flip flops for children with straps around the heel for a very reasonable price.  The flip flops featured below are from Sanuk, which I just purchased for my son.

Last year, I  got these cute sandals for myself from Target.

However, my favorite sandals to wear are Gladsoles. These shoes are handmade to fit exactly to the shape of your feet.  When purchasing these shoes you have to trace your feet before they can make them. This allows your feet to truly be in its natural form as you wear them.  Use the coupon code of healthyfeet to get 15% a pair of Gladsoles. (Note: I do have an affiliate account with Gladsole.)

Healthy Feet Tip #1 – Shoes in House

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month, so throughout the month I will be sharing tips on how to create or maintain healthy feet.

Healthy Feet Tip #1 is don’t wear shoes in your home, that includes slippers as well.  Allow your feet to move freely while at home.  Taking off your socks will bring even greater benefit to the health of your feet, so slip those off too if possible.

Having your feet be barefoot allows for freedom in the toes, bones, muscles, ligaments and skin.  This freedom is crucial for balance, proprioception (how your body sense where you are) and arthritis.

Note: if you always wear something on your feet when at home, you might want to start out slowly. Simply allow your feet to be barefoot in your home for an hour and then gradually increase the time being barefoot.

Transition to Minimal Footwear

How do you transition to minimal footwear?

  1. Evaluate the state of your feet now? Do you normally wear shoes with a 1-inch heel? 2 inches?
  2. Next find one pair of shoes you would like to replace and purchase the new shoe with a ½ inch smaller heel.
  3. Allow your body/feet adequate time to embrace these new shoes and heel height.
  4. Then purchase another pair of shoes with an even smaller heel. Repeat until all your shoes are those with minimal to no heels.

The biggest mistake people make when transitioning to minimal shoes is going from regularly wearing 1½ to 2-inch heels for over five years and then dropping to a shoe with no heel. Our bodies need time to transition, especially the muscles of our legs. Heels create shortened muscles in the legs, so when you go to no heels, these muscles will now require lengthening. Depending on how long you have been wearing heels, these muscles may not have been lengthened in years or decades.

As you drop your heels, the alignment of your body will start to shift. Your pelvis will come into a more neutral position, which will help with the alignment of your spine, organs, and overall health and functionality of your body.

Learn more about strengthening your feet and healing foot issues in the following videos:

Shoes & Foot Problems

How Shoes Contribute to Foot Related Problems:

  • Foot wear increases the incidence of knee osteoarthritis, back pain and hip degeneration.
  • An elevated heel of any height alters the biomechanics of the foot and body.
  • Normal weight distribution is 50% over both front of foot and back. High heels change weight distribution to 90% over front of foot and 10% over the back.
  • For every inch one’s heel is elevated in a shoe, the position of the body is altered 20%. This means that the body falls forward 20%. To compensate for this, we push our pelvises forward, our shoulders back and our heads hang down.

Tips on Finding Shoes that Promote Healthy Feet

Sole

  • Was designed to protect our skin from punctures and abrasions.
  • Originally was thin.
  • Now soles can be thick, thin, contoured, and have height.
  • The thicker the sole, the less the intrinsic muscles of the foot can do, less communication happens between the brain and feet and the movement of the ankle is increased (Increased ankle injuries anyone?)

Upper

  • The top material that connects to the sole of the shoe.
  • Flip-flops, mules, and slide-on sandals require more work to keep them on, which creates toe tension. (This can result in hammertoes).
  • Laces affect constriction, which impacts circulation to the feet.

 Toe Box

  • The front of the shoe where the toes go.
  • Too tight of toe box can decreases toe mobility, which results in muscle atrophy (toes are being squashed together).
  • Chronic toes squeezing can also result in increased joint stress, bone stress, and soft tissue deformation. (This can create bunions).

Heel

  • The heel of the shoe aligns itself with the heel of the body. The higher the heel, the more pressure on the front foot.
  • The bones at the front of the foot are small and often become angled and compressed.
  • A positive heel causes a displacement of alignment (often resulting in the pelvis pushed forward and tailbone tucked).

Continue your foot health journey with Whole Body Barefoot by Katy Bowman.