Summer, Sandals, and Smiles Right? Unless your sandal choice promotes poor foot mechanics and inefficient movement which can lead to foot, ankle, knee, hip, and back pain or worsen the pain you already cope with due to arthritis and/or injuries. This is important for the whole family! The type of sandals your children are wearing can affect the development of the muscles and bones of their feet and can lead to poor foot mechanics and proprioception (ability of your feet to sense where they are in space and make adjustments) as well as poor posture which can all detrimentally affect your children in sports and throughout life potentially leading to foot, ankle, knee, hip, and even back issues along with increasing the risk of chronic injuries and falls which can lead to acute injuries.
I’ll never forget the shock on my daughter’s face at age 12 when our orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mark Neault, shared the same information with her. She looked at us both asking, “Did you two talk about me wearing sandals before my appointment?” Dr. Neault and I hadn’t talked, just the benefit of having a mom with a degree in Exercise and Sport Science who also had many years of experience coaching young athletes and seeing how poor foot strength, proprioception, and mechanics impact daily life and sport performance.
Your feet are composed of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles. Your feet are your body’s foundation of support and balance having the potential to affect every joint in your body, including your spine, which affects your posture, your ability to balance, and your efficiency of movement.
Sandals that have a strap between your big toe and second toe change your walking mechanics which affects your entire body. Improper foot and walking mechanics causes wear and tear on your bones, ligaments, and tendons while also wearing down the cartilage that protects boney structures of your joints and allows for smooth movement of the joints. All your foot joints are linked together like the inside of a clock. What happens when one internal component of a clock stops functioning properly? Your clock doesn’t work properly, likewise, your feet won’t function properly either!
What should you do for summer footwear? Choose sandals for yourself and your children that don’t have a strap between your big and second toe. Especially for sandals that you and your children plan to wear regularly.
How do you keep your feet strong, agile, and stable? Go barefoot as much as possible! Walking barefoot as well as 1-leg balances, tai chi, qigong, and yoga barefoot in the grass or sand are a fantastic workout for your feet and ankles!