Sunday, June 13, 2010

Flip-Flops, Part 1

June! The time of year when flip-flops move out of closets and into the streets of Boston. June is also the time of year the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) meets and podiatrists present studies on the dangers of flip-flops.

This year, USA Today, Shine from Yahoo!, and the New York Times Well blog all cite Justin Shroyer's work. Now assistant professor of kinesiology at University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Shroyer studied the biomechanics of 100 wearers for patterns in feet and leg movements.

One problem with flip-flops is that toes have to grip so hard to hold on that people are “scrunching their toes into a claw” (so said Barry Francis, a Harley Street foot surgeon, in the Daily Mail Online, 8/3/06). “The less flip in your flip-flop, the better,” says Shroyer, USA Today, 6/3/10.

The other problem is that flip-flop wearers shorten their strides to keep the flip-flop on and overwork lower legs, knees, hips, or back. Resulting injuries can include sore feet, inflammation, sole pain, joint pain, shin splints, heel spurs, or twisted ankles.

Official takeaways (more flip-flop tips from APMA's Tip Sheets page):
• Wear in moderation, no more than a few hours (podiatrists have the same advice for wearing high heels) and not while walking long distances, doing yard work, or playing sports
• Best styles have features to hold your foot in place like wide straps, arch support, a heel cup, and a heel strap
• Check flip-flops every year for signs of wear and don’t wear if too worn down, since according to, the average person takes between 10,000 and 20,000 steps each day
• Don’t wear flip-flips if you have diabetes to avoid scrapes that may lead to more serious injuries.
• Find brands with a seal of acceptance from the APMA (more initials! American Podiatric Medical Association): Chaco, Dansko, FitFlop, Orthaheel, Reebok, SOLE, Spenco, Wolky. See images below.
Above is the Chaco Flip Ecotread Multi Red, $50, Nice strap!
What's up APMA? You've listed a ton of Dansko styles that are not flip-flops. The only one that is close to a flip-flop is the Carmen, above, in the Women's Capri line, $120. It is actually quite nice and sleek, even with that flower thingie on the side. I like the additional cross-strap to take some of the pressure off the thong when you walk. Maybe I will overcome my wariness of clogs since spraining both ankles, and try them. Dansko is very helpful and has a web page with all of their APMA certified styles. I suggest that the APMA rename the Flip-Flop list, or take off some of the Dansko styles, if it wants to retain it's credibility.
The Electra FitFlop in silver, above, $60. FitFlops are all over! I admit that their claims (slimmer butt! toned legs!) make me skeptical and think of them as gimmicky. But I gotta admit, they look comfortable. Maybe I will try them next time I see them somewhere like FootStock, on Newbury Street.
Orthaheel's Tide Sandal, Sorbet, above, $55. A little plain for my taste, but all Orthaheel shoes are endorsed by Dr. Andrew Weil, "internationally recognized pioneer of integrated medicine," who says in the short video: "It's important to move every day." No argument here!

As far as the Reebok's Ultra Versa II toddler model, the closest thing I found was the Reebok Infant/Toddler Ultra Versa Shore Buggy Sneaker, above. Cute and all, but not a flip-flop! For simplicity's sake, I think APMA should keep children's shoes on a different list. And as long as they're going to list specific styles, they might as well make sure they are still available, or indicate what season they are from.

The SOLE Platinum Sport Flip in Java, above, $70. Again, too plain for me, but I like the brown, and they did get into a New York Times online slide show about "apr├Ęs-sport" sandals, a category that shoemakers hope has a huge growth potential.

The Spenco Women's Total Support Sandal, above, $40: the only shoe made by a company that specializes in insoles. These actually have a bit of coolness to them, although a reviewer cautioned against the tan being a dirt magnet. I think it's their slim curviness. Also, neoprene straps are pretty awesome. Tagline: "Love your feet!" A sorta-cool video about the sandal, too.

And now, drumroll please, my favorite (no-I'm-not-getting-paid-to-say-that) brand of the list, Wolky's Serenity, shown in purple patent, blue inlay, $120 (under "Ladies Summer/Zen" on the Wolky site). It's all I can do not to show you the red and gold metallic colors, too. I can't say enough good things about Wolky's. I have three pairs but not this style.

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