I’ve sworn off my formerly favorite footwear.
For years I’ve worn flip-flops whenever I could get away with it because they are nearly like going barefoot and I think maybe my feet are claustrophobic. That, or it’s like my Granmama always said when she saw me barefoot: You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. 😉
Everyone has postural and muscular imbalances, and I already knew some of mine from the chiropractor (scoliosis) and from weight training. But beginning running at 40+ has shown me every imbalance because running is not forgiving of imbalances. Several months into running, I was finally past having shin splints, but my shin muscles started trying to cramp every time I ran. I did all the things I could figure to do — like extra stretching for my calves because if they’re tight, it can make those shin muscles work extra hard — but nothing solved the problem.
One night it occurred to me that maybe my beloved flip-flops were the culprit. So I started searching online and voilà! Studies confirmed what I’d suspected. Turns out that wearing flip-flops on a regular basis causes tightness in the anterior tibialis because of how the muscles contract and the way the toes claw in order to keep the shoe on the foot. Some people believe frequent flip-flops wear can contribute to plantar fasciitis as well, but I haven’t seen evidence to confirm this.
My lightbulb moment pushed me to go ahead and buy the Chacos I’d been eyeing, and now those are my go-to summer shoe, as well as a pair of leather Clarks sandals (similar to these, but I got mine years ago). No slides, no flip-flops; the shoe has to stay on my foot without my help. Exception: I do keep a pair by the back door in case I need to make a dog stop eating a stick or barking obnoxiously at a neighbor because my dogs turn into jerks who ignore me when they’re in the back yard.
I’m still working on other imbalances and things that come up as I work on adding distance so I can do my first half marathon this fall, but since I made this footwear change, I no longer have that particular problem.
My main point in this story is not that flip-flops are evil, but that learning to pay attention to your body can help determine problems, and even more importantly, it can help you fix them.
It’s been almost 6 months since flip-flops and I parted ways. I had been wearing them grocery shopping, walking around town, even walking the dog or walking a mile+ to the beach, etc. That’s WAY too much and definitely the reason they were causing muscle tightness! We’ve come to a truce now, and I do wear them occasionally but only around the house or when I know I won’t be doing much walking.