Two thongs don’t make a right…

I’ve been subscribing to the CrossFit PT guru, Kelly Starret’s, blog for the past few months. I have never been more disturbed by one of his posts, than what he video blogged the other day. A public service announcement.. to athletes…. (deep breath), I don’t even know if I can say it aloud… here goes… TRASH YOUR FLIP FLOPS!!!! No joke, the guru says ya gotta get rid of the flips for flops sake! Can you believe it??? Even brides sport these thingity thongs thinking they’ll be more comfortable throughout their one enchanted evening. I was definitely intrigued by his post and decided to do a little more flippin’ research to find out what all the flop was about… I wasn’t about to flee my flops before getting the four one one.

Sadly, it’s looking bad for the flop, feeding them to the dumpster might not be such a bad idea.

Researchers at Auburn University have found that wearing flip-flops alters the way one walks, changing the gait in subtle ways that can lead to serious sole, heel and ankle problems. They presented these findings earlier this month at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.
The Auburn team videotaped 39 flip-flop-wearing volunteers and noticed how they scrunched their toes to keep the flip-flip on the foot while the heel lifted in the air. This motion stretches the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that runs from heel to toe, causing inflammation, pain along the sole, heel spurs and tired feet in general.

These symptoms were actually what flip-flop wearers at Auburn University had reported upon returning to classes in the fall. An entire summer of flip-flop wearing had taken its toll.

The researchers also found that the volunteers altered their gait , taking shorter strides and turning their ankles inward, likely to keep the flip-flop from falling off. This, the researchers worry, can cause long-term ankle and hip problems.
Sandals with heel straps are the healthier choice because your foot doesn’t need to clench to keep the footwear secure. These kinds of shoes offer better arch and heel support, too.
Toes are another problem area. "When you wear flip-flops, you kind of scrunch your toes to keep the flip-flop on your foot," Shroyer says. That constant pressure often adds up to throbbing and tenderness in the toes. "The body is an amazing machine," Shroyer explains. "When you do one thing, other things turn off and on. By engaging the muscles that scrunch your toes, you are turning off the muscles that would bring your toes up." That also means that you can’t lift your foot up as much when you walk—hence the characteristic flip-flop shuffle.
Flip flops’ design offers no protection for your feet. The thin heel and tiny straps across the top of your foot leave your foot susceptible to various injuries. Stubbed toes, cuts and heel abrasions are typical injuries incurred from wearing flip flops.  Some flip flops can cause you to trip and fall. All in all, flip flops lack protection for your feet.
They lead to calluses and heel fissures. All that pounding on the back of your foot hardens the skin, and since your feet are exposed to air, the skin
Doctors recommend that flip flops should be saved for the beach and replaced with shoes with backs or proper straps to hold the foot in place. Figures show that 55,100 men and women went to hospital with flip flop-related complaints in 2002.

SO… there you have it. Flip Flops get a lot of flack, but they deserve it. I don’t think I can bring myself to actually ditch my digit denigrating sandals, but I will be more aware of the types of activities I engage in while sporting those “healthy leg” thwarting thongs. What’s a better alternative? I have to say, I love my five fingers and new balance minimus have a great ventilation system. There’s always Teva, Keene, and Birkenstocks…. but these guys won the American Podiatric Medical Association’s approval: Orthaheel, Chaco, Mozkito, and SOLE, but even with the added arch support, your toes still have to do a lot of work to keep the flip on your foot. Wearing a sandal with a heel strap is your best alternative, which is what Guru Starrett and endurance trainer B. Mack suggest. In fact, they both urge you, the athlete, to ditch any type of open backed shoe because it alters your gate and messes with your precious piggies. Oh…. if you’re thinking of actually trashing your flips, drive em on over to your closest Old Navy and they’ll recycle them for you (thanks Courtney).

Try this MWOD (mobility work out of the day) to assess the tenderness and flexibility of your plantar fascia