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Flip Flops

by  Kevin O'Hara D.C.

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.
-- James Dent.

Ahh, summertime at last! It has been another long winter and I, for one, am glad to see summer finally upon us. The inevitable question is "what is up with my aching back?"  School kids, teens, parents, and grandparents, I have heard it from them all. Well, lets take a look at those flip-flops. I typically see them popping up around April. I'm sure you have seen it too - usually on the ever-impatient teenager or college student, thinking that the donning of summer's ritual footwear will hurry April into June. Spring takes its sweet time blending into summer, and it seems to you that your back is causing you more and more issue. Although seasonally pleasing, and ever the declaration of the carefree days of summer, these puppies are causing a lot of you a world of hurt! Question: "What the heck do my feet have to do with my aching back?" Answer: "Everything!"

Come on, you have heard the song - and yes, your foot bone is connected to your spine bone. Through a roundabout way of course, but nonetheless, it is, and it affects everything from the feet upward. Your body is one large kinetic chain; all its parts are interconnected, with one part affecting another.  Your feet can affect your ankles, knees, hips, and your spine. When you stand, walk, or run, you subject your body to the natural forces and postures that can cause stress and strain to the kinetic chain. Simply put, your feet are the foundation for your entire body.

When they are not properly aligned, your feet can't give your body the support it needs. So what happens? Your body compensates like it was built to do. A tweak here, a tweak there, and you have changes to your entire posture. Now your body has to adapt to its new foundation. Your ankle moves in a little here, knee out there, your hip dips a little more than it's used to, and voilà! "Well it never hurt before." That is because you had a different alignment before! So what is the answer? Alignment; alignment and support.

Am I saying ban the flip-flop? No. I'm saying use your head. Concert all day? Taste of Chicago? Navy Pier? Wear some shoes that support you (good arch support, comfortable). The beach? The lake? Boating? Not a lot of walking?  Flip-flops. Really. It can be that simple. Although, if you get to the "my back hurts" stage, you may need a spinal adjustment as well. However, the sooner you start working in some support to your daily footwear the better off you will be. Most of you already know if you have some issues with your feet.

Try this: next time you're at the pool, step in the water, then on a dry patch of cement. Now look at your footprint. Are there three nice arches? One across the ball of your foot and one to either side? Or is it flat or off to the side? If you have little or no arch you have answered your own question, haven't you?
See someone about orthodics (a chiropractor or podiatrist). If you have arches, keep in mind those arches will fatigue when you put a lot of strain on them (like walking around all day in flip-flops). It's natural, the muscles in your feet are used to some support and now you are giving them none. So they begin to drop, initiating a change in your kinetic chain.

I hope this has shed a little light on your issues, and it is always my advice that you seek a professional opinion if the obvious does not work. 

Dr. Kevin

Your Arlington Heights / Mount Prospect chiropractor