The 2012 National Foot Health Assessment states that 26 percent of American suffer from foot fatigue (having sore/achy feet), and women are significantly more prone to it. This is no surprise, as sandals and flip flops are a fashion favorite for women and men alike. Especially during the warmer months, these shoes are easy to put on and take off and allow the feet fresh air. However, most sandals and flip flops fail to protect the feet adequately and can cause painful aches over the entire body.
The ‘sole’ issue
While they look stylish and offer comfort from their ease to wear, flip flops do not provide your feet with adequate protection. Exposed toes increase the chance for stubbing, burns from spilling hot liquids or possible breaks and bruises if something heavy lands on the foot. Flip flops also lack adequate ankle support, which can make tripping or rolling the ankle more frequent. According to the National Foot Health Assessment, 1 in 3 American adults have suffered from a sprained ankle. To walk in flip flops, especially at a faster pace, the toes must grip the shoe to keep it on, which leads to muscle aggravations like shin-splints.
The need for support
Human feet were designed to endure the impact of daily walking, running and even jumping. However, they were not designed with surfaces like concrete, asphalt and steel in mind. Daily contact with these surfaces on the way to work, grabbing lunch down the street or running errands around the mall will take a toll on the body. Such materials do not absorb shock the way grass, dirt and springier wood floors do. To make things worse, a sandal’s thinner sole won’t absorb the shock like a shoe with a thicker sole is designed to do. The effects of shock absorption on the body vary. Most commonly impacted are the knees and back, causing discomfort and fatigue. Many times, stress and tension centralize in the back. Especially when paired with poor posture, walking or running without proper foot support can wear on the back muscles. The knees often take the brunt of the force of impact, which may result in chronic knee pain over time.
Reacting to stress
Another way that the body reacts to stress is through the trigger of a headache. Millions of Americans, 45 million according to the National Headache Foundation, suffer from various forms of headaches. These can be sparked by the mounting tension housed from inadequate shock resistance. Reflexology, a common type of alternative medicine, suggests that headaches can be relieved by releasing tension through massaging the feet. Foot massages aren’t a bad way to relieve tired, achy feet either.
Neglected feet from poor sole support may hinder the enjoyment and participation of other activities. Even worse, poor foot health may deter a person from participating in the proper amount of exercise needed to maintain overall, including oral, health. Make sure to look for shoes with adequate ankle supports, protection for toes and comfortable arch support. A thicker sole will absorb more shock from walking on hardened surfaces. Don’t forget that it’s okay to sit back, relax and prop up the feet at the end of a long day.