Ronda Taylor’s eyes filled with tears as she knocked on the door to her assistant principal’s office. “I have to go home,” the elementary school teacher said, frustrated and worried that she had only worked half the day before she found herself in pain such unbearable she could barely stand.
My feet hurt so bad, she thought, hobbling to her car. The unrelenting pain is jeopardizing my job now…what am I going to do?
Ronda’s misdiagnosed foot pain
The then 52-year-old Louisiana resident had endured excruciating foot pain of unknown origin for years by that point. In 2017, her rheumatologist finally attributed it to a formerly diagnosed autoimmune disease called psoriatic arthritis, a particular type of arthritis linked with psoriasis and which can affect the small joints in the fingers or toes, or both.
At the time, her doctor prescribed pain meds and told her to use frozen ice bottles beneath her feet at night — but as Ronda was disheartened to discover, neither relieved her pain.
As soon as her feet hit the floor in the morning, every step was like walking on shards of broken glass. The nighttime bathroom trips were just as bad. Ronda powered through the school days as best she could and worried about taking too much ibuprofen and Tylenol due to the risks of stomach bleeding and ulcers.
Still in agony weeks later, Ronda wondered if she had received a correct diagnosis. What if it wasn’t arthritis after all? she worried.
Needing to find an answer, Ronda decided to seek out a second opinion from a local Baton Rouge orthopedic surgeon and foot specialist, Dr. Meredith Warner, an expert in orthopedic medicine who also treats patients with plantar fasciitis. After hearing about Ronda’s symptoms and conducting an ultrasound, Dr. Warner confirmed she was indeed suffering from plantar fasciitis.
What caused Ronda’s plantar fasciitis?
One of the most common causes of plantar fasciitis — or pain that radiates from the heel down the underside of the foot — is inflammation in the foot’s plantar fascia ligament, the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of each foot stretching from the toes to the heel.
This painful condition is triggered when that tissue tears or is damaged. People who are constantly on their feet (like Ronda when she’s teaching) or are overweight are often at an increased risk, as well as those with flat feet or high arches.
Hearing the diagnosis, Ronda was relieved — after all, Dr. Warner explained that she wouldn’t need a costly surgery or even painful injections to fix it. But when Dr. Warner revealed her treatment for the problem, a special pair of flip flops called The Healing Soles (which retail for $79), Ronda was more than skeptical.
Aren’t flip flops bad for people with plantar fasciitis?
As anyone with plantar fasciitis knows well, walking barefoot (or near barefoot in shoes with no support like traditional flips flops), is strictly against doctor’s orders. In fact, Ronda herself had been discouraged by other doctors to avoid wearing regular flat flip flops, as they could exacerbate her foot pain.
“How are these flip flops going to help me more than the usual plantar fasciitis insoles?” Ronda asked. Dr. Warner explained that to treat plantar fasciitis effectively, the foot needs to be stretched and strengthened with motion in order to promote healing naturally, which can’t always be done with inserts. “Insoles typically prevent this type of movement and strengthening and can weaken the foot over time,” Dr. Warner added.
The Healing Sole flip flops also have a unique “raised toe” design, prompts the foot muscles to absorb force while gently stretching them with each step and easing joint tension. They were also engineered with raised arch support to bolster the structure of the foot and reduce stress on the joints.
To boot, the unique rocker bottom sole features a slight curve, which reduces tension while you walk, a compressible inner heal to cushion a sore heel and a non-compressible outer heel to allow for normal movement — all elements that aid in healing.
I like the idea of wearing cute flip flops while healing my plantar fasciitis, Ronda mused. And she was thrilled that she wouldn’t have to wear orthotic shoes that were often so thick-soled and clunky that were deemed “old lady shoes.” But when Ronda also discovered the specialty flip flops could be purchased using HSA and FSA accounts, she decided to give them a try.
Did Ronda’s flip flops actually heal her foot pain?
Desperate for relief and compelled by what she had learned, Ronda purchased a pair and wore them after work for an hour or two to “break them in”.
After the first week, Ronda noticed her feet no longer hurt at work. “The first thing that shocked me the most was waking up in the morning and not feeling like I was walking on glass,
Encouraged, Ronda slipped the flip flops on every night after work for a few hours, and the pain was completely gone within a month.
Today, the 57-year-old no longer takes over-the-counter or prescription pain meds and remains completely free of plantar fasciitis pain. “They gave me my life back,” smiles Ronda, “I never want to be without my flip flops again!”
8 other flip flop styles that can heal plantar fasciitis
According to NYC podiatrist, Dr Emily Splichal, DPM, MS, CES, the key to treating plantar fasciitis is finding a flip flop — like Ronda did — that takes the pressure off the affected area with ample arch support. “Typically in acute plantar fasciitis you want to look for a sandal that will take stress off of the arch or plantar fascia tendon. A sandal with built-in medial arch support and can take stress off of the fascia so it can heal.” For other flip flop styles that are fashionable and functional to heal your foot pain:
- Best dressy flip flops for plantar fasciitis : FitFlop SURFA Webbing Toe-Post Sandals
- Best dressy orthotic flip flops : Vionic Bella Orthotic Sandals
- Best strappy sport sandal for plantar fasciitis : Skechers Reggae Cup Oh Snap Sandal
- Best sport slides for plantar fasciitis : OOFOS Ooahh Luxe Slide Sandal
- Best orthotic slide sandals : Birkenstock Arizona Orthotic Sandals
For more flip flop styles check out the Woman’s World’s best flip flops for plantar fasciitis.
Not a flip flop fan? Try one of these sandals to heal plantar fasciitis
While it’s easy to assume sneaker-like sandals are the best option for stability and pain relief, Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, claims the strappier styles are just as effective. “The strappier the sandal the better, because it holds your feet in so you don’t have to over grip with your toe muscles. If the straps are adjustable that’s a plus, so this way you can accommodate for anything individualized like bunions, hammertoes, or a wide foot.”
- Best flat sandals for plantar fasciitis: Dr. Scholl’s Islander Wedge
- Best Vionic sandals for plantar fasciitis: Vionic Lupe Sandal
- Best adjustable sandals for plantar fasciitis: Aetrex Gabby Sandals
- Best wedge sandals for plantar fasciitis: BZees Dream Wedge Sandal
- Best dressy flat sandals for plantar fasciitis: Vionic Ella Sandal
- Best dressy wedge sandals for plantar fasciitis: Lifestride Keaton Espadrille Wedge
- Best heeled sandals for plantar fasciitis: Vionic Perk Sami Strappy Sandal
- Best dressy platform sandals for plantar fasciitis: Dr. Scholl’s Morris Platform Sandal
For more sandal styles check out the Woman’s World’s best sandals for plantar fasciitis.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
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