14 Jun A Bad Step for Dancers
With the rise of the temperature, we see a trend in warm weather clothes. Shorts get a little shorter, colors get brighter, hats and sunglasses accompany most ensembles.
But there’s one summer trend that could be the demise of your dance career.
I was too, but the proof is there. Wearing flip-flops on a regular basis is putting unnecessary stress and unnatural movement on your feet.
Here’s the breakdown: with every step you take there’s a natural glide of the foot heel- ball-toe and, repeat with each step. But when you’re wearing flip-flops the design forces your gait to alter. Each piece of the foot is effected.
Toes: With only a small strip of fabric or plastic holding the shoe to the foot, the toes are forced to clench down. This constant tension alters your gait, eventually causing muscular issues in your feet and calves.Over time, this repeated gripping of the toes leads to overuse of those small muscles, which could result in tendonitis or a painful condition called plantar fasciitis which you will feel when you walk, run, or dance.
Aesthetically, extended wear of flip flops could cause hammer toes, new bunion formation, or worsen existing bunions.
Bones: Without proper support, overuse can lead to stress fractures. This is a scary statement for a dancer to hear but bear with me. Standing or walking too long in a thin, flat shoe, like a flip flop, leaves the feet susceptible to tiny cracks in the feet bones.
Bacteria: Okay, someone had to say it. Especially for my metropolitan dancers… DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS ON THE STREETS? Garbage, cars, spit, animal feces, human feces, these streets are gross AF. Why would you expose your precious feet to this bacteria ridden environment? Not to mention that, as a dancer, you probably have an open wound or blister on your foot, granting this bacteria direct access into your body. Perf.
Everything upward: Because your ankle is unsupported and your toes are clenched, you’ll end up changing your gait entirely. An Auburn University study found that people walking in flip flops took shorter, harder steps. This seemingly subtle change can impact everything above the ankle and lead to pain throughout the body.
If left untreated, foot pain from flip flops can lead to a host of other severe pains and issues in areas like the Achilles, calf, hamstring, hip flexors, and even low back pain.
Bonus reason not to wear flip flops: You’re trying to argue and tell me there is such a thing as “a classy foot thong”? Girl, no.
Although the summertime staple is both cute and comfortable, it doesn’t seem worth it to risk your entire career over a pair of shoes.
Even with that said, I’m not getting rid of my flip-flops completely.
I’ll still use them in common spaces like the gym shower, walking around the studio, or short treks to the bodega.
But for extended walks, I’ll take the extra 30 seconds and lace up my sneakers, and I reccomend you do the same.
If you find yourself at the beach wondering around in flip-flops on vacation, fret not. Pack a tennis ball or lacrosse ball that you can roll out the bottoms of your feet and calves before anything tightens up.
Enjoy your summer, dancers, knowing you’re going a step in the right direction!