As summer approaches, researchers at Auburn University have performed a study demonstrating the dangers of that ubiquitous summer accessory, the flip-flop.  They recruited volunteers and recorded their gait in both sneakers and flip-flops.  In flip-flops the subjects took shorter steps and didn’t raise their toes as far as they did in sneakers.

This makes sense, if you think about it.  When we wear flip-flops we curl our toes down to keep the sandals from flying off our feet.  This keeps us from taking a long step and also has our heel hit the ground at the wrong angle for optimal walking.

The investigators warn that this abnormal gait could contribute to foot and knee pain in people who walk long distances in flip-flops.  I’m sure this news ruins your day, if not your summer, but don’t despair.  The authors reassure us that wearing them for short distances like around the pool should be fine.

So when you see me at the beach in my wingtips, now you’ll know why.

Learn More:

ABC News article: Flip-Flops Can Cause Long-Term Health Problems

New York Times Health blog: Summer Flip-Flops May Lead to Foot Pain

Tangential Miscellany:

This week, I’d like to leave you with the eloquent rant of my patient Stephen J. who emailed me to vent about the problems with medical insurance.  I couldn’t have said it better.

Reason 4,327,602 to be critical of health insurance: “The Ticket Punch.”

Here is how it works.  Medical insurance companies pay by the visit.  Doctors need volume.  When a patient visits a doctor with a new complaint the doctor may need to “waste time” errr “spend time” diagnosing the problem.  The flat payment doesn’t cover the time.  So when the doctor sends the patient for an MRI, reviews the MRI and concludes that the patient should see a surgeon, he makes the patient come in before telling him that.  The patient would be better off to hear that in a phone call.  The other patients in the crowded waiting room would be better off too but the doctor can’t bill for the call and needs to “punch his ticket” in order to be paid.

Doctor’s used to validate parking; now patients punch billing chits for doctors.

I like the idea that a doctor can value a patient’s time and be paid to do so.  And I like parking validations.