Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flip Flop Fiasco

It's August and finally warm in Seattle. Flip flops are out in numbers, ruining feet left and right. Much to the chagrin of my clients, I can't help but give a lecture whenever I see flip flops. (I do restrain myself in public and try to turn a blind eye to the foot destruction walking by me.)

People look at me in disbelief, down at their presumably-innocent flip flops then back at me as if I'm joking or crazy. What could be the harm in those so comfortable, flexible plastic pads? Give me a minute to tell you how flimsy footwear not only is bad for your feet, but also for your breathing, your hips, and general state of tension.

If a shoe is not held on your foot by a strap around the heel, your foot or toes must grip so the sole continues along the ground with your foot. "I don't feel any gripping," most people tell me. That's because your feet are so used to that level of tension, it seems normal. After my feet were released in a Structural Integration session, I could feel how much muscular effort it took to hold on flimsy shoes.

Flip flops symbolize laid-back relaxation. Ironically, wearing them creates the opposite effect in your body. Gripping feet and toes cause tension in the pelvic floor, which signals the body to stay on alert and creates shallow breathing. An inflexible foot limits movement in the hip above and adds pressure in the hip joint.

It's too bad that we just can't run around barefoot. That's what's best. Flip flops feel the closest to barefoot, hence their popularity. In reality though, they start a chain reaction of tension that builds up and compromises the entire body.

While I recommend throwing away all flip flops (sorry landfills!), I realize they can be handy to walk to the pool or to keep freshly polished toenails from scuffing. Just don't wear them all day. Or if you do, be prepared to release the tension they cause.

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