One of the questions I’m frequently asked by my clients as they limp in with neuromas, plantar fascitis, hammer toes, knee pain and aching backs is, “What kind of shoes are really good for my feet?”
Often, these clients have resorted to wearing those shoes…you know the ones. They look like a small boat and no matter what shiny finish you put on them, they’re never going to look cute with your favorite pair of jeans.
Ironically, these are not the shoes I recommend for healthy feet. Most “healthy” shoes feel like wooden planks strapped to your soles and some even perpetuate harmful foot patterns. If you want to keep your toes (and back!) happy, here are the guidelines for shoes that will treat you right:
High heels – even just one inch! – change the angle of your body and put extra strain on the balls of your feet, your knees and your back. To avoid these aches and pains, stick to shoes like ballet flats and loafers.
Your feet were made to bend! Stiff shoes that immobilize the bones of your feet inhibit their natural function, namely shock absorption and balance. If you can’t bend the sole of your shoe, it’s too stiff and it may be causing you to walk unnaturally, contributing to hip, back and neck pain.
Strapped In Tight
Shoes like flip flops or slides that don’t have a back on them cause you to clench your feet to keep from kicking the shoes off or leaving the darn things behind. Make sure your shoes are firmly attached so your feet can relax and function normally.
In short, don’t mess with nature. Your feet are a marvel of engineering and the closer to barefoot you can be, the healthier your body will stay. Of course, if you want to go whole hog and get the closest thing to barefoot you can have while still wearing shoes, check out Vibram Five Fingers and get your gecko feet on!
This week, pay extra attention to your feet. See if you can feel the ground with each step, as though your feet were having a conversation with the earth. Your feet have many nerve endings and are a rich source of information about your environment. Pay attention to their messages and notice how you feel when you’re good and grounded.
And for goodness sake, throw out any shoes lurking in your closet that leave you with bruised soles, pinched toes and blistered heels! Your feet will thank you for it.