No — Not my flip flops! Not my flip flops!!! — Comfort and fashion impacting wellness? Indeed.

Its summer and its Texas — that means pedicures and more importantly — FLIP FLOPS. Who am I kidding, I live in central Texas, so that in and of itself means flip flops year round except for the handful of days that it gets really “cold.”

Flip Flops are a staple in my wardrobe, this CNN article discusses the harms of wearing flip flops too often. It made me think “ts not just about fashion, it may impact the wellness of your employees.”

I started my career in retail. Which meant long days on my feet. I had worked retail in high school and through college, but when I took my first job out of college, the ante was raised. As a manager, I couldn’t wear sneakers (“tennis shoes”) to work. After a few years of walking the store in heels and “fashionable” comfort shoes my feet had taken a beaten. I was in my early 20s and had already been to several foot specialists. Talk about a big cost to my pocket — even with my insurance. I had severe heel spurs and required physical therapy every week that left me in tears. Many of my co-workers from that job are still in retail and were too proud to go to a podiatrist. I wonder how the toll has taken on their feet — and legs and backs.

Fast forward to the present where my professional environment is all about being casual and comfortable — jeans and t-shirts — and flip flops. It took me almost 2 years before I broke down and accepted the fashion rules, but now I’m hooked on my flip flops. What used to be a staple as house shoes or quick trips to the mailbox now consume my closet in every color (to match all those t-shirts that I get my from my employer – and my sun dresses for the days that I want to “dress up”).

What I took as comfort I now see could have a serious impact to my health and well being – -and could lead me to those regular appointments again with the podiatrist.

Bringing it all together…

Not many employers are probably asking themselves if their dress culture promotes a culture of wellness. And if you don’t want to think about your employees and their health — let’s think about the bottom line — potential increasing costs of benefits as medical claims rise. If your employees are anything like mine at my retail gig, you may not see them as podiatry claims – but likely as leg and back plain — maybe even head, neck and headache pains — not understanding the connection between what is on their feet and the impacts that it makes to misalignment in the body.

I prefer to take the lens of the former — healthy employees! There is an opportunity to communicate to employees the impacts that their shoes could make to their health. Is it any different than helping educate people on healthy eating habits which also impact wellness?

Today as I get ready for work, I’m ditching the flip flops and grabbing the sneakers! And this weekend, I’ll be replacing my cheapo flip flops for some that offer more support — its Texas after all!



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