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Flip flops, roads and summer leg pain

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Summer is a time when people get out and get more active. Some people find that as the summer goes on they have increasing aches in the sides or calf muscles of the lower legs. The cause of these pains can sometimes be a repetitive use type injury that occurs because of the way we use our legs in summer.

The first possible reason for these leg pains is the over use of flip flops or thong style sandals. While cool and convenient, these sandals can be a problem for some people. The reason is that often people have to grip with the toes to keep the sandal from falling off. This means that when the foot and leg impact the ground with a step, the muscles are tense. This is not the case when someone walks barefoot or is wearing shoes that stay on. The result is strain to the muscles and tendons that control the foot and toes. Repeated straining of these tissues can lead to pain. There is nothing wrong with these types of sandals, they are often not the best choice for long walks, particularly on rough surfaces that would increase the strain.

The other cause of some summer lower leg pain is from running. Many people get into the regular habit of running in the summer. Other people who regularly run on indoor tracks and treadmills, also start running outside more. While running is a great exercise, some people develop pain in the legs when they start running on roads. Roads, unlike tracks, trails and treadmills have a crown. That means that the road is high in the middle and slopes to sides. For the person who runs on the road, this means that one foot is landing just a little bit lower than the other. The body can easily compensate for this by tightening muscles and shifting the balance of the body. Over a long run and repeatedly over the summer, this small adjustment can cause strain to the leg and sometimes the hip, depending on how the runner compensates for the slope.

Understanding the cause of these types of injury pain is important for preventing the problem. Changing walking and running habits along with the addition of topical analgesic muscle rubs will also help the legs recover and decrease the pain. Prevention comes in the form of running on varied surfaces that are flat, and wearing thong type sandals only for short walks. Above all else, do not go for long summer runs on country roads wearing flip flops.

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