Are Flip Flops causing your back pain?


The short answer is yes.  The long answer is maybe.  The medium answer is most likely.

Low back pain can be caused by an unbelievable amount of situations.  If you do not have regular low back pain but are suddenly experiencing aches and pains after switching to flip flops, the answer is probably yes; flip flops are causing your low back pain.

Most Flip Flops have almost no arch support.  This changes the way your foot hits the ground, which in turn changes the way the force of walking is transmitted up through your body.  You could experience ankle pain and even knee pain before your back begins to ache.  If you continue to push through these signals your body is giving you, more pain will surely follow.

Another consideration as to why flip flops can cause you pain is due to the scrunching of your toes as you walk.  With sneakers and even when walking barefoot you do not try to grip with your toes as much as you do with flip flops.  You subconsciously do this in order to prevent the flip flop from falling off your foot.  This added tension changes the way your foot hits the ground and reduces the pliability of your natural arch, leading initially to foot and heel pain.

As mentioned, this foot and heel pain, will eventually lead to ankle pain, followed by knee pain and eventually low back pain.

Wearing these wonderful shoes occasionally is not a problem.  It is when you habitually wear flip flops that you notice painful changes begin to occur.  Wearing them to the beach, or occasionally throughout the day does not seem to cause major pain problems.  If you know you will be walking a great deal, flip flops should not be your choice of footwear.

As far as massage therapy for your low back pain is concerned; the deep tissue massage will help alleviate your symptoms, but if you are constantly engaging in the aggravating factor of wearing flip flops, there is nothing corrective that can be done until you change your footwear.

Chronic use of flip flops can drastically change your gait pattern, causing additional pain as well as an increase in connective tissue or scar tissue to be laid down in your body in order to help compensate for the added forces created by the change in gait pattern.  As you can see in the skeleton picture, the imbalance of one part of the body inevitably effects the entire structure.  Since your feet are your foundation, and imbalance there will have a direct effect.

Worse case scenario, you end up with back surgery because your discs have degraded due to unnatural repetitive forces being applied to them due to chronic improper gait patterns.

Best case scenario, you have some muscle spasms that can be addressed with a good deep tissue or sports massage as well as corrective exercises and stretches.

If you're in the Central Florida area and want to get some great deep tissue massage or sports massage for yourself or traveling team or performance company get in touch with me through the Contact page and set something up.

If you find yourself vacationing in the Central Florida area and wearing flip flops for the first time in a year, take it slow, choose sneakers when walking for longer periods and get a deep tissue massage if you start to feel any unusual pain symptoms occur from you change in footwear.

Have a Great Day!

-Michael Ames, LMT

Deep Tissue & Sports Massage Specialist