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Running Shoes, Flip Flops and Heels

heel discomfort

By: Cierra Washington, ATC

  • “Have you recently started running to get in shape for summer?”
  • “Do you happen to wear anything other than those flip flops?”
  • “Have you recently purchased new sneakers?”

These are all common questions Loudoun Sports Therapy Center clinicians will ask patients who come in with foot and ankle pain. Each question brings forth additional information that allows the clinician to determine why the patient may be experiencing the pain.

Sudden decisions to begin running or increasing running frequency or duration without proper introduction is often a common cause of foot and ankle pain. Think about being stationary all winter and suddenly picking up and running a mile or two a day. Your muscles aren’t conditioned for this much exercise, let alone the impact and duration of running, which leaves the body susceptible to injury. To put that into perspective, walking produces a ground action force that is 1.2 times your body weight. Running produces a ground action force that’s roughly 2.4 times your body weight.

New sneakers can also be a primary cause of foot and ankle pain as they provide the support you need when bearing weight. With that being said, it’s important to determine what type of support each individual needs. For instance, someone with minimal to no arch would benefit from a shoe that provides mild to moderate arch support in efforts to relieve the pressure and encourage better foot mechanics. If someone with abnormally high arches tried wearing the same sneakers, they could potentially experience more pain because the arch height lacks the support needed causing additional pressure.

Speaking of footwear: flip flops. More like ‘Flip NOTS!’ These ‘shoes’ are a favorite for many people, especially when the weather is warmer. But, they provide absolutely no support for your feet. This in turn causes stress on not just your feet, but your knees, hips and eventually your back. As comfortable and convenient as they may be, flip flops have so many negative effects making them just not worth the initial comfort. They alter your gait pattern, cause flat feet, cause heel pain and are an overall safety hazard. As we move into spring and then summer weather, think twice before making flip flops your daily staple for footwear.

Common symptoms of foot and ankle pain include:

  • Pain on the underside of the foot
  • Discomfort with walking
  • Improper weight distribution on the foot, knees and hips
  • Calf tightness
  • Decreased foot/ankle range of motion

Imagine trying to go through an entire day’s worth of tasks with any of the above symptoms and not having any difficulties. Not only will you be trying to minimize the pain by altering your gait, but by altering your gait, you will actually cause additional stress on other joints. If you continue to ignore the problem, you only begin to increase your chances of injury, as well as creating additional compensatory injuries.

Here at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center, we treat many foot and ankle injuries and are well equipped to return you back to your daily activities as returning back to sport. If you have any questions or concerns, or would simply like to gain more information about how we can specifically help you, CALL TODAY at 703-450-4300!

For more information on foot and ankle problems, CLICK HERE .

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