A Winnipeg physiotherapist says summertime is sandal season, but as it draws to a close it ushers in foot pain season.
“Between August and October we treat a lot of foot pain and it is usually because people are wearing poor quality footwear through the summer and specifically poor quality flip flops,” said Kim Senechal, manager of clinical services at Pan Am Clinic’s rehabilitation service.
Senechal said not all flip flops are created equal and the flat ones with small straps connected to the sole in between the first two toes are alright to wear sometimes.
“Heading back and forth to the barbecue, or on the beach. But they’re not a great shoe option for anything that requires a lot of repetition or purpose,” she said.
She said the two most common foot ailments she sees are heel or arch pain from plantar fasciitis or irritation to the big toe joint. The cause she said is likely little to no arch support and the idea that flip-flops can change the way your foot makes contact with the ground.
“This means that the person essentially has to become a toe gripper in order to keep the shoe on the foot,” she said. “A natural gait pattern is to have your toes relaxed when you push off and to flex through your big toe.”
Her suggestion is to upgrade your summer footwear by choosing sandals that have some arch support, have straps that come over the top of the foot, a deep heel cup, or a heel strap.
That’s exactly what long-time flip flip wearer Karen Humpage looks for in a shoe.
“You still get the benefits of wearing flip flops but you get better health benefits for your feet,” Humpage said.
The travelling musician said she wears flip flops all day, every day, even in winter. She said that has been her go-to shoe for close to 50 years.
“Because they are the closest thing to being barefoot, if I didn’t have to wear shoes at all I probably wouldn’t,” she said.
Her way of knowing if a sandal will not cause foot pain is to look for ones with a sturdy sole, arch support, and thick straps. She also does a walking test in the store.
“If I have to scrunch my toes even once it’s not the flip flop for me,” she said.