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So, how do you feel about wearing a flip-flop that has the potential to make your bum smaller and your legs leaner?
I thought so. Me, too. The concept (and the shoe itself) has been dreamt up by a woman who specialises in coming up with things we all want, but just didn't know it. Marcia Kilgore is the former personal trainer who came up with the concept of Bliss * the Mecca for spa hoppers on both sides of the Atlantic * and then surpassed herself with her next project, the gloriously tabloidish "Soap and Glory" skincare range.
Kilgore created Fitflops in response to her own needs. "I never have the time to go to the gym," she says, "so I thought, wouldn't it be great if you could get an MBT sort of flip-flop that you could wear in the summer, that exercises your legs while you walk to the office?" Kilgore refers, of course, to the monumentally ugly (though some say equally effective) Masai Barefoot Technology training shoe, developed by Swiss Engineer Karl Muller.
Kilgore's own foot mechanic was Dr Dave Cook, a lecturing podiatric biomechanist (who even knew this was a profession?) at South Bank University in London. Kilgour says she was impressed by his passion, knowledge and his trim buttocks "which you could bounce a quarter off". Sounds good to me.
What is a podiatric biomechanist? The guy isn't an HPC registered podiatrist, so hopefully he isn't trying to pass himself off as a podiatrist.
See also The Times (U.K.) Times 2 lead story page 4 18-06-07 'If the shoes doesn't fit...' and following article 'Do you FitFlop as you walk?'.
My views are mixed. 'Any publicity is good publicity'. However, in the U.K. podiatric surgeons abhor cosmetic foot surgery and it seems unfortunate that some of our cousins from the States are quoted as promulgating the practise and are described as "the high priests of podiatry.' Having said that, the ACFAS 'frown upon' the practice, and I greatly admire that body. Unfortunately, a British orthopod is then quoted who loses no time in stating that '...these people are not medically qualified for surgery....' and that ...'orthopaedic surgeons won't touch it....' The latter is a bit rich coming from the same profession as Kelikian who made a virtue of altering feet to fit the shoe back in 1965 (dated in my copy of 'Hallux valgus, Allied deformities etc.').
The following article is by physiotherapists, although an American podiatrist is quoted.
I have written to the Times pointing out that there is a body of knowedge in the U.K. which could have been consulted. Shame really.
Background: High peak plantar pressures predispose to foot problems and may exacerbate existing conditions. For podiatric physicians to make educated recommendations to their patients, it is important and necessary to begin to look at different shoes and how they affect peak plantar pressure.
Methods: To determine how flip-flops change peak plantar pressure while walking, we compared peak plantar pressures in the same test subjects wearing flip-flops, wearing athletic shoes, and in bare feet. Ten women with size 7 feet and a body mass index less than 25 kg/m2 were tested with an in-shoe pressure-measurement system. These data were collected and analyzed by one-way analysis of variance and computer software.
Results: Statistically significant results were obtained for nine of the 18 comparisons. In each of these comparisons, flip-flops always demonstrated higher peak plantar pressures than athletic shoes but lower pressures than bare feet.
Conclusion: Although these data demonstrate that flip-flops have a minor protective role as a shock absorber during the gait cycle compared with pressures measured while barefoot, compared with athletic shoes, they increase peak plantar pressures, placing the foot at greater risk for pathologic abnormalities. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 98(5): 374–378, 2008)