I have developed a reputation for doing some pretty interesting (and effective) things in my client training. Much of this comes from my educational background in the Z-Health system, which is based upon a neurological versus bio-mechanical model. Once you begin utilizing a neuro based approach, you never run out of options.

Something I talk with my clients about a great deal is how footwear impacts function. This is generally in the context of high heels, flip flops, and highly cushioned/ inflexible running shoes. It’s not unusual for someone to be very emotionally attached to their preferred footwear, and to have a hard time with the explanations as to why these different types of shoes can be a problem. This is why it is important to have a demo, and for it to be repeatable and explainable. Below you will see a video of myself running such a demo with my client Margot. This video is the third time in a row that we did this test, and each time the result came back the same. A demonstrated loss of strength in the rectus femoris (hip flexor) muscles. This is relevant as one of Margot’s original complaints was knee and hip pain, and she wore flip flops all the time. Since we discarded the flip flops we have seen steady improvements in the form of reduced pain and increased strength.

The obvious question is: Why are the flip flops so impactful for this client?

  1. From a bio-mechanical standpoint the big toe often stays glued to the flip flop in the swing phase of gait, when it should be joining the other toes as part of the anterior wave/ dorsiflexion party. Often this presents as out-turned feet and collapsed arches.
  2. The cushion can be a problem if you already have balance problems in the form of proprioceptive, vision based or vestibular issues a little more imbalance can be enough to send you off the cliff? Not sure about that? Think about an ant crawling over your foot, and how that grabs your attention. If the receptors in your dermal layer are that sensitive and send such a strong signal, why would your other systems be any different?

Selection of proper footwear is important, and should not be driven by emotion. A simple standard to adhere to is to look for shoes that you can easily bend to touch the toe to the heel, and that can rotate at the arch. Most importantly, don’t let yourself become the victim of someone else’s marketing plan/ advertising scheme.

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