Footwear for happy feet

Footwear for happy feet? Have you got happy feet? Most of us have suffered some ill-effects of bad footwear at some point in our lives. Here we look a little deeper at why the correct footwear is often overlooked.

person wearing red and black flip flops
Keep your feet happy

Firstly, it’s worth understanding why your feet matter. Your feet have a main function and this is to act as a sensor so they can relay information to your brain about our environment. In the same way your eyes do. They guide optimal movement of your WHOLE body and they allow us to navigate our environment safely.

Feet, are quite literally, our foundation. They need to be able to be both rigid AND flexible at different times. If your feet are somehow inhibited, they will not allow full expression of mobility and strength in the rest of your body because they are protective.

For example, you may have heard that power lifters are often able to lift MORE weight without any other changes to their training, simply by addressing issues with their feet.

So what about footwear?

Your footwear is meant to protect you from the environment. Sadly, modern footwear on the whole is detrimental to your feet. This has repercussions for the rest of your body too. When you look at an average pair of shoes, they are commonly quite inflexible, heavily cushioned, with a narrow toe box and overly supportive in some way e.g. arch support.

Here you can see an example of potential mis-alignment of the toes

But the downside of typical ill-fitting modern day footwear is that by altering the alignment of your toes within footwear due to a narrow toe box, muscle recruitment & the ability to generate power is inhibited.

What kind of footwear should i consider?

The more that your footwear is cushioned, narrowed at the toes, has supports in it, lacks flexibility & is lifted up at the heel, the less your feet are able to function as a sensor. Dressing up your feet in such a way is effectively dulling your sensor. Similar to the how it would be hard to read Braille with thick gloves on, or to see out of really dark sunglasses on a cloudy day.

person with tattoo on foot walking on wet sands

So what footwear would allow your feet to function optimally and not lead to aches and pains over time? Choose natural footwear e.g. barefoot shoes. They…

  • Protect your foot from damage but they do not inhibit your foot from functioning - allowing your feet to act like feet

Tips to guide you when you purchase new shoes:

So, when you purchase new shoes, aim to tick as many of these boxes as possible:

  • FLAT – avoid shoes with a heel lift
  • THIN – a thin sole will allow the feet to feel and sense the ground (don’t ‘blindfold’ the feet with excessive cushioning! Cushioning actually increases loading of your joints, it does not reduce impact on your joints as you might expect)
  • FLEXIBLE – all 26 bones and 33 joints in each of your feet need to move. If your shoe is stiff, it will limit your foot’s ability to move, but this makes your foot stiffer and weaker over time.
  • WIDE – shoes should be widest at the toes and balls of your feet. This will help prevent painful problems such as bunions, Morton’s neuroma, hammer toes as well as a host of issues higher up your body.

Let's recap....

smiley doodle on sand

Choosing footwear which allows your foot to move as naturally as possible is an important choice which could save you a lot of unnecessary aches and pains in the future. It may be hard to appreciate this, but this simple choice could unleash untapped potential in your whole body.

When you don’t need to have shoes on, walk around barefoot and let your feet move freely, get stronger and become more resilient. Following the tips above will take you a big step closer towards having happy feet!

At Physioflexx we often see the ill effects of footwear mainfest in various parts of the body. We can offer a detailed assesment and help you restore your feet function. This in turn can help solve issues such as knee and back pain.

For more information click here : Contact - Physioflexx Ayrshire


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