Arthritis or osteoarthritis is a joint disease that can occur anywhere in our body. Although it is more commonly found in people who are older, it still can happen in younger people. Arthritis will happen in people who bear a lot of weight on their joint. In Singapore where the weather is always hot and rainy, flip flops are the ideal choice of footwear for many due to the comfort and convenience. However, some people suggest that flip flips and arthritis have a relationship. So what exactly is this relationship? Let’s explore further in this article.
If you look closely at your feet, you will realise that our foot lands differently when we wear flip flops compared to a pair of shoes. Shorter steps are made when wearing flip flops and the heel strike amount is significantly reduced. When we wear normal shoes, our toes are flexed in an upwards direction. However with flip flops, the toes are flexing downwards instead in order to keep the flip flops on our foot. This incorrect flexing motion can cause the body mechanics to be affected due to wear and tear of the cartilage, causing pain and discomfort.
However, there are differing views on this! A medical study performed by Rush University discovered that flip flops help to reduce the amount of stresses experienced by the knee as compared with a pair of supportive and well cushioned shoes. A pair of supportive footwear works by providing maximum support to the ligaments, tendons and muscles in the foot and aim at maximising comfort. However, it pays little attention to the biomechanical effect on the foot. Shoes have a significantly higher load on the knee as compared to flip flops and this increased load is found to be a cause of arthritis. That aside, walking barefoot was found to be the least demanding action for the knee. Walking barefoot causes the foot to flex naturally without any external help and allows a natural stride as compared to artificial ones caused by wearing shoes or flip flops.
Despite flip flops appearing to be better at reducing arthritis on the surface, it does not mean that you should rush out and buy a pair to walk around daily. While flip flops are better for the knee, it is not best for the foot. Flip flops are badly cushioned and can cause foot injuries and problems.