As the weather warms and we begin to bring out our summer footwear, I want to caution you and explain the problem with flip-flops or slides. This applies to children all the way to adults; however, as children are developing and growing, it is especially important to understand the impact of flip-flops on the body and brain.
When your foot makes contact with the ground and then lifts up to walk, if your shoe is not still making contact with the bottom of your foot, your body perceives that you are about to lose that shoe. This then causes the toes to “hold on” and grip the shoe, which shortens your natural gait because the hip joint doesn’t fully extend itself to take another step, ultimately impacting the foot, ankle, knee, hip, and the entire spine. Auburn University did a study on this that you can read here that suggests, “flip-flops have an effect on several kinetic and kinematic variables compared with sneakers.”
From a neurological standpoint, wearing flip-flops changes a lot of brain formation. Whenever I begin working with children in my office who are struggling with attention, focus, and behavioral issues, one of the first things I do is examine cross patterning which is using the opposite arm and leg at the same time. We want the body to be communicating side-to-side in a balanced way, and flip-flops will destroy some of this work. The bottom line is that flip-flops disrupt healthy physical and brain balance.
Flip-flops should not be worn daily. If you’re sending your child off to summer camp, or they need shoes for the shower in the locker room, flip-flops work for that; however, when you wear them regularly, it changes the way you walk and wreaks havoc on your body and nervous system.
So…if you’re an adult wearing shoes without a solid heel strap (clogs, slides, flip-flops, etc.), and you are outfitting your children in the same, I give you permission and encourage you to go shopping! There are many other great options available that provide that back heel support and in doing so, allow your body to take a full gait when walking.
Here are some of our favorites…
Chaco – Select a style with a back strap. These are great for staying active and keeping your feet and spine secure. Men, women, teens, and kids often find these comfortable. The great thing about Chaco’s is that they are extremely durable and last forever, so you can pass the kid’s shoes down, and fully-grown feet can enjoy them for years to come. This style for kids is one of our top picks.
Teva – These are comfortable, cute, and great for summer fun! Another style that is great for all ages and stages, you can even enjoy that some of these have a platform/midform style for a little added height. Check these out…
Dr. Scholl’s- Yes, that’s right. Dr. Scholl’s makes several trendy, comfortable, and well-supported sandals and platform summer options. These are some of our personal favorites
Let us know which supportive summer shoes you select for yourself and your family, and if you have any other recommendations we can add to our list, please share!