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.

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