Athletes Don’t Wear Flip-Flops | Episode 219

Athletes don't wear flip-flops. Treat your plantar fasciitis

Hey MWod Beasts,

Ok. Let’s get into it. Self respecting Athletes don’t wear flip-flops. I know where you live it’s ‘Hot’. I know you like to look ‘cute’. But you are destroying your feet mechanics and setting up serious problem for your heel cords and calf. Best defense, no be there. You know I’m right. Take the flip-flop/slipper challenge. See if you can walk/run in your flips without clinching your big toe.

It is my life’s mission to get you guys to stop destroying your feet and ankles. Think about the worst thing you could do to your heel cords and feet, now think a little worse. That’s what flip flops are.

Here's a free 8:00 minute video on how to treat your plantar fasciitis

And here's the first video of a 5-part series by Roop & Jami on Foot & Ankle mobility. (Must be an m|wod Pro subscriber)


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65 thoughts on “Athletes Don’t Wear Flip-Flops | Episode 219

  1. Michael Lewis says:

    How do you not have any replies!!!! You speak truth! Nicely explained and great detail. I cannot stand seeing athletes wearing flip flops, or sandals with socks to practice or going and coming from a competition. Mainly because it looks so damn lazy, but also because I know the damage that they are doing to their bodies and risking optimal performance!

  2. kate says:

    Soooo true. After moving to hot climate for school I realized about two months in that everything hurt. Traded my flip flops for a bit of support and less than a day later I felt amazing! Not worth the pain at all.

  3. Ken Wilkens says:

    GREAT video Kelly! My PT has been preaching this message for YEARS! You will get lectured if you wear flip flops to PT. I think mine are going in the garbage – even though they are standard fare in Arizona.

    So, what are your thoughts on TEVA type sandals (that strap across the forefoot and around the back of the heel)?

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  5. Michael Park says:

    Great stuff, Kelly!

    Q: Can Vibram FiveFingers (aka “toe shoes”) cause the same issues due to clenching the toes?

    I used to run in them until they stank so bad I tossed them. I never had these issues, but I know some other people that have killer shin splints, calf spasms, and other issues. I wonder if this is related. Thoughts?

    • Holly Geier says:

      my son had foot issues and calf issues when wearing those smelly shoes. Our local running store stopped carrying them because of foot issues they caused.

    • Ron says:

      No way. Vibrams are great. They don’t cause the toe clench because they wrap around the heel. Nothing you do will make them fall off.

      As for the other comment, someone needs to try very hard to make these smell. As in, never wash them. I used mine for everything for years and as long as you toss them in the wash about once or twice a month, you’d be fine.

      As far as “issues” go, these are a transition shoe. If you are used to a heel toe stride, these correct it. As with any form of conditioning, it needs to be gradual and you need to listen to your body. If you never lifted weights, would you push through the pain on your first few days working out? No, you’d work up in weight and reps with proper days off. Once your feet are accustomed to the natural stride, you should find your stability better than ever.

      Anyone who is reporting injuries or pain is not giving themselves time to adjust to the shoe properly. Or they are at an age where they are already so accustomed to their heel toe stride that their physiology and structural mechanics can no longer be reprogrammed. Usually over the age of 50.

      I wore these for a few years before going totally barefoot. Prior to Vibrams, I ran in typical running shoes and had a heel toe stride.

  6. Ivonne says:

    Wow this is such an eye opener!

    I live in South Florida so flip flops are very much a part of life for me. I wear them around the house ALL THE TIME. Never knew that all the issues I’m having with my left ankle, calf, knee and hip could be related to it.

    My husband watches your videos religiously and has put me on a very strict regimen of ankle mobility and it’s been helping a lot. I still have a long way to go though, because I can’t run more than 400 m without excruciating pain or do double unders without the same result. Any suggestions?

  7. RD Evans says:

    What kind of Inov-8s do you have? What would be best for a combination of lifting and stuff like hill sprints? Thanks!

  8. Gary Banford says:

    Now living in Australia from Scotland. I’d never worn flip flops until I got here two years ago. I have now had an Arthroscopy for OA in my left ankle and 3 x UV guided Cortisone injections in same ankle and most recently CT guided Cortisone in my Sac / IL joint.

    I have worn flip flops to all of my appointments and not once has anyone mentioned it. They have quite literally gone in the bin this minute!

    My rehab starts again right now, thank you

  9. Ellen says:

    8 years ago I had extensive surgery on my left foot. The large toe joint had been messed up years earlier by an over-enthusiastic bunion repair that left me with “monkey toe” and this surgery was partially designed to repair that repair. The joint was fused so I have limited mobility in that area now. My sister had purchased a fancy pair of flip-flops for me to show off my “new foot” and I wore them to yoga one night. I noticed walking in that I was having difficulty, as I could not clench my left big toe to keep the damn shoe on. Leaving, I ended up soaked as it had started raining and no way could I attempt to run in those things. So anyone who says they don’t clench their big toes while wearing them is not being truthful. I now wear Merrell or Propet “barefoot” shoes in warm weather and don’t miss flip flops at all. Very informative video.

  10. Johl says:

    Just thinking out loud here but would prolonged use of flip flops/slippers/thongs/jandals (whatever you would like to call them) cause hallux valgus?

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  12. Lewis says:

    Very interesting! What are your thoughts on the Huarache style of sandals worn and run in by the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico (as featured in the book Born to Run)?

  13. Tomas Becklin says:

    Always struggled with flip-flops. Didn’t grow up with them back in Sweden, but adopted the SoCal lifestyle as soon as I got to LA.

    Now I know why… Good thing I stopped wearing them.

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  15. Kate Stewart says:

    I can see it contributing to but not being THE problem. Almost 2/3 of the world’s population wears flip-flops or similar style sandals on a daily basis, from India to China to Thailand to South America. We don’t hear of feet issues there, so there must be other factors that result in foot pain issues here.

    • Wendy says:

      I think one of the problems of flip flops strongly contributing to foot problems here in the U.S. is that we are walking extensively on hard, flat, man-made surfaces such as concrete or blacktop, compared to people in countries who have large rural populations wearing flip flop style sandals to walk on natural surfaces. So, I agree, Kate, the flip flop itself is not the problem, but perhaps the combination of flip flops and hard surfaces together.

  16. Caitlin says:

    I am a Ballet Dancer and just watched your video. I’ve been wearing Flip-flops for years and after watching your video I’m realizing that they’re not so great. In terms of wearing sandals, what or is there a good alternative to be able to wear a sandal in the summer?

    • Brock Haywood says:

      Yea, I wear flip flops 9 months out of the year. What’s the alternative for someone who doesn’t like shoes?

  17. Shannon says:

    I wear flip flops around the house a lot because they are Orthaheel flip flops with the arch support that I need. Walking around barefoot is very painful in my arch without the support. So, it seems I can have pain in my arch (walking barefoot) or wear the flip flops. Are there other options I’m missing?

  18. Dan Bockmann says:

    Well of course athletes wear flip flops. It happens all the time, with zero ill-effects. Like many other “bad” things, the only thing that matters is moderation.

    For example, a recent study found that prolonged sitting shortens your lifespan. Should we stop sitting altogether? Hell no. Just sit — and wear flip-flops — in moderation.

    Wear them to/from the pool and beach? Of course.
    Run a marathon in them? Of course not.

  19. Ari SP says:

    Awesome Video, my girl is on my a** now, thanx Kelly. Just one sneaky question… What about traditional Birkenstocks? jeje

    thanks for sharing

  20. Holly Geier says:

    If you are suffering from issues related to over wearing of flipflops or slippers, what exercises can be done to overcome this issue. I do trigger point and roller work, but what else can be done? Thanks

  21. Matt says:

    Makes so much sense. I am a distance runner and after vacationing to the beach by calf muscles are always a mess. Now I know why.

  22. Dirk says:

    I wear FlipFlops for the past 6 years now every day of the year since I moved to Thailand, and I am running 5 miles per day in my running sandals and I’ve never felt better. If you guys have joint problems it may come from your meat consume and the other malnutrition.

    The Sherpa in the Himalaya wear sandals or no shoes at all and they don’t have problems, just saying.

  23. Chris Harrison says:

    This must be a video from 6 years ago. You can tell by Kstar boot cut jean he’s rocking hard with his innovate kicks. 😉 great video as always. Thx.

  24. jeremy says:

    I tend only to wear mine to the shower or around the judo gym. I don’t think anyone works out in them?

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  27. Ben says:

    Let me tell you why this is doesn’t make sense. ATHLETES DONT COMPETE IN FLIP-FLOPS. I’ve been an athlete all my life. I have also worn “flip-flops” all my life. I still feel that i perform better than 90% of athletes in my sport at my age, and have ZERO problems other than prior injuries. So to me this makes no sense, yes all of the clenching your toes stuff happens when when you walk in sandals, but i don’t clench my toes when i wear the shoes i compete in. Also wouldn’t stretching before a workout or training (like all athletes are supposed to do) alleviate or completely get rid of those issues? I just don’t feel that my choice of footwear outside of the gym and off the field affects my performance. Sorry.

  28. Melanie says:

    I’m very athletic and when I’m not in my asics, im in my “FIT Flops”. A brand of shoes who make sandals. These are very different, and are they an exception to your rule????

  29. CEM says:

    I wear OluKai and Vionic flip flops. Both have arch support. I get the clenching of the toe, but for living in Florida, these are the best!

  30. Vu says:

    They only wear flip flops because they are seat warmers and can’t afford a pair of sneakers. Stop complaining and enjoy what you have, there are many more in worse states of living.

  31. Bridget Durham says:

    You are so RIGHT!! Thank you for pointing this out. My feet always hurt in the summer (from flip-flops) and tend to go back to running shoes!! I want to share this on my FB page so everyone can hear the TRUTH!
    Keep up the great info-mercials!
    Thank you!!

  32. Mike says:

    Umm get some better fitting flip flops and you don’t have to clench your toe… You can see in the video their is a good centimeter or 2 from the strap to the dorsal portion of his foot. Anyone would have problems wearing shoes/ sandals that don’t fit properly. I know many people who wear flops all the time including myself who have no issues. We also spend more than $10 on a pair of nice fitting sandals with good support. If you think flops are bad I can only bet you were one of the people who believed that avocados were bad for you. boo ya

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  35. Harvey says:

    You are only half right — with proper use of your feet there is no reason to cause problems. Local style in Hawaii is slippers, as flip-flops are called here. Most locals grew up them, high heels cause many more problems than flip-flops. We must reorganize our feet, hips, back and learn to walk/run without pounding. If our walking/running is a rolling motion with the weight going through the bones we will not cause the issues in the first place. It is not what we do, it is how we do it that matters. Early weight transfer causes pounding which produces a pain and related injuries. Learn to roll. These ideas come from somatic education – the Feldenkrais Method.

  36. Tim Wright says:

    Are you suggesting that birkenstocks are also a problem. These have been fashionable for years in Europe and have orthotic soles with arch support etc.

  37. Ben Sullins says:

    It’s pretty offensive to say that “Self respecting Athletes don’t wear flip-flops.” This is why Crossfit get’s a bad rap.

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  46. Chris leath says:

    You guys are all fags. Tell that shit to Jimmy chin or yvon chinard. Or DEVGRU or dudes peddling on the Tour de France. Fuck your foot mechanics grow a pair.

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