Why Runners Shouldnt Wear Flip-Flops: Part 2

Why Runners Shouldnt Wear Flip-Flops: Part 2

Lets catch up where we left off speaking about the calf and the muscles that flex the foot; the Posterior Compartment.

The posterior compartment becomes tight and tired because it is constantly in use even in a good shoe! Walking, stairs, not to mention running, put miles on the calves. Like a car hitting its 10,000 mile check-up and beginning to break down, so do our calves become tight and tired as we pile mileage on over the years or through a training program without a check-up of sorts-some stretching and maybe even an occasional sports massage. Hill and speed work can speed up this process considerably, which is why after speed work can often be the first sign of injury.


Most especially for those of us that live and work in commuter cities, just taking the subway daily…hiking up at least 30 stairs and trekking 10 blocks back and forth on the pavement can wreak havoc on the posterior compartment. Then we likely sit at a desk and our legs lay dormant for hours, tightening up and losing circulation.


Now go for a run. What we find is that this group is already overworked and tired, and we are expecting it to contract and develop power to get through our activity.


Imagine if you worked as a painter and contractor all day. You would use your arms half of day…hammering overhead, holding large planks of wood, lifting, using power tools. Your arms would be extremely tired by days end, after all, you used it excessively all day, then did the exact opposite. Now imagine if your hobby was throwing a baseball or tennis? How do you think your arms would be able to perform after hours, given it activity level all day? Simple, they want more rest, not more work.


The same is true for our posterior compartment. The last thing they want everyday is to power your lower body after having worked so hard they tired themselves out. They are tired and as a result, tight. Far be it for us to take care of them with plenty of water, frequent massage and lots of stretching every day, pre and post run.


So getting back to the flip-flop. Why put on a shoe that makes the posterior compartment have to work harder? Can’t we just give them a rest? Isn’t that what ‘recovery’ means? After all, that’s what they are asking for. By putting on a flip-flop, you are not only denying your posterior compartment the rest it deserves, you are asking it to work harder and in a dysfunctional manner. You are doing yourself and your next run a huge disservice.


So this summer, be a smarter runner. Find a summer shoe with a back strap or laces. Wear a shoe that holds tight to your foot, not a shoe that forces your foot to hold tight to it. Also note, Birkenstocks are back in fashion! These are a great alternative to the flip-flop and have great arch support as well!


Any less your foot can work just means it can work harder on your next run because it is able to rest and recover!