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Flip Flops Change Gait Patterns

Are You Guilty of the Flip-Flop Shuffle

When temperatures rise, folks start sporting their favorite flip-flops. Once relegated to the role of beachwear or a shower shoe, flip-flops have become a fashion mainstay – a fact that might give Anna Wintour hives. In fact, the simple shoe gives physiologists and podiatrists more than just hives. The thong sandal has become fodder for research.

Two biomechanists from Auburn University studied the effects wearing thongs has on how people walk. They noticed two important changes: the first being a shortened stride length. Taking shorter steps translates into more wear and tear on the legs joints over time, since it takes more steps to reach any destination. Secondly, the researchers also noticed that flip-flop wearers chronically scrunch their toes to keep the thongs on their feet. This constant toe contraction turns off the ability of the toes to lift, which they should do with each step. The end effect is the "flip-flop shuffle," which is not a very efficient way to get around.

Thongs, like everything else in life, are fine in moderation and are great for walking across hot sand at the beach or showering at the gym. They just shouldn't be your main summer shoes. How often do you wear flip-flops? Tell me in the comments section below.


Join The Conversation
jelibeann jelibeann 8 years
oh, i love flip flops...i'm in ny, so it's not possible to wear them all year round, but the second it's 65, i'm rocking comfy and there is just an endless goal is to one day have a job where i can acceptably wear flip flops every day
cereal_please cereal_please 9 years
I definitely wear flip flops more often than I should. In the summer, I essentially wear them everywhere I go.. I hate having my feet confined in real shoes. In fact, I only wear real shoes when I work out. In the winter, I wear Birkenstocks or my Uggs. I know they're terrible for my feet (my feet do hate me for it too) but I just can't stop!!
Puzzle2397 Puzzle2397 9 years
I am not a fan of flip flops. They hurt my feet, get really slippery and annoying if they get wet and you want to actually walk a fair distance in them, and make me walk slower, when I like to walk fast. They are good for showering, though.
kia kia 9 years
I am guilty. Even moving from Miami to Colorado couldn't push me out of my flip-flops unless I am in my hiking boots.
Ryot Ryot 9 years
I live in SoCal and wear flipflops 8 or 9 months of the year. I have two pairs currently, a basic plastic one for going to the beach or the pool, and a nice pair with embroidery and sequins that I wear everywhere, even to my (very casual) office. Both pairs fit *well* and that's the key -- they don't slide around, so I don't scrunch my toes. And I take longer strides, walk faster, and can walk further in flipflops than I can in even my most comfortable heels. The nice pair is very comfortable. I wouldn't necessarily go sight-seeing in them, but I have done full days in Disneyland in them no problem at all. Seriously, with all the damage women do to their feet wearing heels, doctors are worried about people taking slightly shorter strides in flipflops?
silly_pickle silly_pickle 9 years
At least once a day, 10 months out of the year! I don't shuffle my feet if that makes it any better. Flip flops are the only flat shoes (other than runners - which I only wear working out) that I'll wear. I find other flat shoes are not flattering, and even though I'm not short (5'7'') most flats make me look that way. And, it was 115 degrees here today, so I have a good excuse.
mirawilliams mirawilliams 9 years
Flip flops are not professional and they hurt my feet. I wear my TB flats or my gladiator sandals.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I hate flip flops! First off, they are uncomfortable and chafe my toes; second, I too have cankles and prefer a sandal with a heel; third, my toenails/toes are so dang ugly from running that I'd never bare them in public; and fourth, they're bad for your feet. I don't mind if other people wear them though...hey, they're your feet.
seraphimm seraphimm 9 years
and I think gladiator sandals are NOT tacky. Yeah, the "hollywood look" is overdone, but they're classy. Especially for tall people like me that can't wear high heels and need to rely on sandals and flip flops!
seraphimm seraphimm 9 years
I WEAR THEM EVERYDAY. dare to call me tacky or trashy????????????? well what if I said I'm VERY TALL (I'd KILLLLLL to wear heels :(), have big feet that sweat a lot (stinky ballet flats anyone?), and my outfits aren't sporty enough to wear Vans or sneakers everyday? trashy is a really really REALLY. offensive and annoying word. please use it with care?
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 9 years
I might be guilty of the flip-flop shuffle, I have to pay more attention. In the summer I either wear flip-flops or go barefoot (although only at home! going barefoot around town is just gross.) Occasionally I'll heels in the summer although I lean towards flats.
pandacn pandacn 9 years
I first heard about adverse effects of flip-flop wearing on Good Morning America. I *love* flip flops. I wear them all the time, 3 seasons out of the year. I like flats, but I have wide feet, so flats still hurt if I have to walk a long distance (but I'm dressed too nicely for sneakers), so I go with flip flops. Aside from the space between my big toe and second toe widening, I don't really see or feel any adverse effects. I hope my feet won't be too messed up though because I don't think I can give up flip flops. They should make better and healthier flip flops!
millarci millarci 9 years
All summer long! I love them!
dcfashionista dcfashionista 9 years
I wear them sometimes esp. after a pedicure. I like wedge sandals alot.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
I'm with bythesea. I live in South Florida and out of necessity, we have different standards of fashion down here. Flip flops are the norm. I love shoes and I wear heels, pumps, sandals, sneakers, boots, whatever. But when I want to be comfortable while dealing with the heat+humidity, I wear flip flops. By the way, it IS possible to walk in flip flops without making that overly obnoxious flap flap sound AND without crunching your toes - I guess it might take some practice for some people? Also, you have to buy shoes that fit properly and that aren't slippery.
Charlie Charlie 9 years
I own a couple of pairs of nice leather, thin-strapped flip flops that I wear in the heat of summer instead of flats. But, mostly, it's just something to keep my feet from getting dirty outside, because I usually kick them off when I'm inside my destination. I find that I have to change the way I walk in order to wear them (more than just the toe scrunching, because naturally I walk toe-heel instead of heel-toe), and it gets uncomfortable after a while. I would never wear them for any distance walking. I would like to say, however, that I go to great lengths to make sure my feet look the best they can look since flip flops put them on display and feet are funny-looking anyway without adding a layer of gross.
em113 em113 9 years
I'd like to add that there are a billion different types of flip flops. So if you're going to say flip flops or trashy/tacky, you're going to have to give me a good argument on how a nice pair of rainbows or reefs is trashy. sheesh.
teacherturtle1 teacherturtle1 9 years
i think people do what they see others do, such as wear thongs. i think people like to just slip on thongs and go. i think people like the freedom of thongs. i think it is a style or a fashion for some to wear thongs. i think thongs can be a cheap alternative to regular shoes. i think it can be a habit to wear thongs. just my thoughts, :p ..and well i've worn thongs during a whole summer almost everyday, and i'll tell you what.. my feet are usually very soft, but wearing thongs sure dried the skin on my feet. made them feel rough and thick. so i quit wearing them. i don't remember any pain from wearing them, but i think i prefer socks and shoes for everyday, and maybe i'll wear thongs when i go to the beach, or maybe out on the weekend.
glam-sugar glam-sugar 9 years
I used to wear them more but noticed how I always needed to scrunch my toes. So now I wear flats, sandals and peep-toe pumps in the summer and save the flip flops for washing my car.
SussLW SussLW 9 years
I wear them as much as possible when it's warm enough. Sandals are uncomfortable and flats are awkward and unflattering. At 29, I will wear them to commute to work (with a suit) and switch to a heel once I'm there. I see no reason for some of you to judge me for that. I also wore them for my wedding. I agree people need to pick up their damn feet and control the flip-flop sound (it's really not that hard), but then again there are plenty of people who shuffle around in ANY shoe. With enough heel wearing, my feet are pissed off at me anyway - try finding a cute pump in wide - so letting them recover in flip flops or (the horror) my beloved Crocs is essential.
erinlikestoplay erinlikestoplay 9 years
I wear them all the time in the Summer. I love flats, but my feet get so sweaty/stinky, and I haven't found a way to resolve that issue in the warm months. I have a few other sandals I wear in the Summer, too, but they always give me blisters. If I am going to walk around a lot, I suck it up and put on socks and shoes.
designergirl designergirl 9 years
I never wear flip flops. They give people troll-like feet, and they are completely unflattering to the leg. I live in the Texas heat too, but I put on sandals and flats. I can see that they would be beach appropriate, but otherwise, no.
svenska svenska 9 years
I live by the beach in San Diego, so I wear flip-flops basically all year long, especially my comfy Reefs that I've had for 4 or 5 years and still have wonderful heel and arch support. I don't think they're anymore tacky or trashy than some flats or some wedges are (sorry but I'd rather be in a pair of flip-flops any day than plastic or patent platform hooker heels that are so prevelant), and I think they're a lot less ridiculous and much more comfortable than the gladiator and flat leather sandals you see everywhere without any arch support.
ualili ualili 9 years
I wear flip flops year around. However, I frequently wear wedges and flats but once I'm home I always slip on flip flops.
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