I have worked with thousands of clients over the years and one of the most consistent links that I can say with certainty exists, is the link between biomechanical dysfunction from flip flop wearing. You can also lump tight shoes, high heels and other rogue foot wear that simply do not allow the feet to function correctly in that description. What I am not saying is that you can never wear those shoes that you hold so dear to your heart again. What I am saying is; that if you are engaged in an exercise regime, be it professional or someone who wants to get the best from your training regime, without injury or decreases in performance. Ditching those pesky flip-flops and other gait restrictors are probably a good idea.
If you want to wear them, then doing some kind of releases that address your own personal restrictions is key. This flip-flop release is very useful but not complete.
With the twenty-six bones, thirty-three joints and over one hundred muscles and ligaments, each person demonstrates their personal movement and dysfunction in slightly different ways.
I can tell straight away, when a client walks in whether they wear flip-flops, tight work shoes or over used high heels. So what are the common issues that I see?
- Inability to optimally recruit the hip and thigh (glutes/hip flexors/quads/hamstrings) muscles.
- Restriction in mobility/stability to the neck.
- Poor core function due to overuse of the back muscles.
- Calf strain and usually a decrease in shin muscle contracture
- Instability of the big toe-essential for push off in gait
- Permanent contraction of the toes
There are others and many clients often look at me like a madman as I say that their problems are coming from their footwear. Usually the improvement in function and decrease in pain relatively quickly is enough to ensure their compliance to restricting problematic footwear and addressing their muscular problems with some foot TLC homework.
From a muscular and myofascial line Myers proposition of the structural connectivity via the superficial back line can show us how muscular and ligamentous issues in the feet might affect the whole line where the muscles are continuous with the cranial fascia. Addressing the foot has often decreased pain and increased mobility in the neck in many clients.
A long-standing client of mine who is a competitive swimmer was reminded of the implications of flip-flop wearing and performance. Originally a back pain client that was cleared, he was complaining of a lack of ability to complete a six beat stroke with his feet. After clearing the distortion of the peripheral and central nervous system and restoring optimal muscle function (Using NKT or Neuro Kinetic Therapy and Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex/PDTR), he reported a return of the function that night.
Whether exercising or just for moving efficiently you can still wear these shoes but just be aware that there is a cost. To remove the dysfunction you will need to do corrective work and more homework and lets be honest for those that do exercise, correctives are adistraction from the main event. More mobility and stability work? Come on!
Well if you just treated those feet with more respect you wouldn’t need too.
- Wadsworth, D. Locomotor Slings: a New Total Body Approach to Treating pain.http://membership.aamt.com.au/lib/Journals/Winter07/Win07-Locomotor.pdf