Thong-style flip-flop sandals are often a summertime staple; however, many people choose them as a year-round option. According to a recent study led by biomechanics doctoral student Justin Shroyer at Auburn University, flip-flop usage should be kept to a minimum to avoid nagging aches and pains.
The study—which was presented at a recent annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine—included 39 college-age men and women who walked on a vertical, force-measuring platform wearing flip-flops and then athletic shoes. “We found that when people walk in flip-flops, they alter their gait, which can result in problems and pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back,” Shroyer stated in a press release.
But don’t give up on flip-flops just yet, says San Diego–based IDEA author and presenter Stephanie Hoffman, MS, PT, and creator of the Orthotic Sandal Company. “I have seen similar studies and don’t find the results impressive, because I think people adapt their gait with all different kinds of shoes,” adds Hoffman. She does concede that traditional flip-flops may not provide enough user support, a shortcoming that can initiate excessive pronation. “I developed orthotic sandals to try to normalize heel strike with gait and prevent navicular drop (pronation at heel strike), just like any other comprehensive orthotic,” she says. “Orthotic correction in the heel corrects pronation, which serves 80% of the population.”