For years podiatrists have been maligning the flip flop sandal as a cause of many common foot problems. In fact, multiple articles have been published about the dangers encountered in the current flip-flop phenomenon. Still, most teenagers and young adults spend more time in flip-flop sandals then any other shoes.
Engineers in the UK launched the "Fit Flop" as a stylish way to strengthen your legs, thighs and "bum" muscles while walking. Surprisingly, these also have been found to help with back pain and do not cause many of the same foot problems as the common flip flop sandal.
Why is this? The "Fit Flop" is engineered much like a "barefoot technology" shoe. It makes the muscles that stabilize the foot work harder and over a period of time can actually strengthen your feet. The common flip-flop actually accentuates pronation, the rolling in of your feet which causes fatigue and biomechanical stress in your feet and lower legs. This can lead to overuse injuries like plantar fasciitis and posterior tibial tendonitis which are commonly known as "arch fatigue" or "fallen arches". Flip-flop sandals also increase the stress on the great toe joint and can accelerate Hallux abducto valgus also known as "bunion" formation. This does not happen with the "Fit Flop" because of the varying EVA in the midsole which actually accelerates the propulsion or "toe off" stage of gait, therefore decreasing the stress on the great toe joint. Patients with bunions may never take them off!
The makers of "Fit Flops" have some good science behind their claim to increase muscle activation 10-12% and it was verified by an independent lab outside their company. Consumers should be cautioned to wear the "Fit Flops" gradually because of the delayed muscle soreness that occurs just like the beginning of a work out routine.
Is the "Fit Flop" the answer to your workout woes? Can they cure your foot problems? Not even close, no shoe can do that! They can help you burn a few more calories during your daily routine, but cardiac fitness can never be achieved in this manner. Do not forgo your aerobic workout thinking somehow this sandal is the cure for your fitness woes. Maybe a curvier calf muscle or thinner thigh, but just walking in a sandal cannot achieve real fitness.
Can anyone wear a "Fit Flop"? Caution should be taken in picking any shoe. Foot type is important to evaluate. Many people with significant flexible flat feet or unstable foot type should not wear the "Fit Flop" because the destabilizing technology can actually accentuate the stress on their foot. If you require in-shoe foot orthotics, the "Fit Flop" is probably not for you.
Bottom line: "Fit Flops" are a good alternative to the common flip-flop sandal but should be worn gradually. Pay attention to any fatigue in your feet! If you have any foot pain or injury, visit your podiatrist and ask their advice on your ability to wear "Fit Flops".