For centuries, women have selected footwear on the basis of appearance rather than comfort, and as a result they experience four times as many foot problems as men. Our feet need all the support they can get especially since they strike the ground an average of eighteen hundred times over a mile long walk. Normally, the stresses associated with walking are distributed across the foot’s twenty-six major bones. Certain types of footwear, such as high heeled shoes, sandals, and the summer flip-flops, concentrate these stresses on small areas of the feet, which can lead to unsightly calluses, bunions, as well as heel, knee, and back pain.
High Heels This shoe elevates the heel, transferring most of the body’s weight onto the balls of the feet. Worse still, they often have pointed toes, which prevent your tender tootsies from spreading out and providing a sturdy base of support for the body.The body compensates for all this weight shifting by shortening the calf muscles, flattening the natural curve of the low back, and tilting the pelvis forward. Studies show that wearing high-heeled shoes is a risk factor for developing low back pain. Also that wearing dress shoes with heels of just one and a half inches increases the pressure on the knees by up to twenty percent, predisposing wearers to arthritis of the knees.The obvious solution is to avoid the use of high-heeled shoes. If you must wear heels, choose shoes with square rather than pointy toe boxes and bring along a pair of flats to change into whenever possible. Regular stretching of the calf muscles will also reduce the pressure on the heels, ankles, and knees.
Sandals In the heat of the summer, there’s nothing like a pair of sandals to let your feet breathe, but beware of thin-soled designs, which offer little cushioning, as well as flat-soled sandals, with no arch support. It’s best to opt for a sturdy pair of sport-styled sandals with wide, adjustable straps, which can be cool yet comfortable. Note Dr. Jen sporting her Birkenstocks all summer!
Flip-Flops Originally designed for use at the pool or beach the flip-flop has made it to the mainstream. The flat soles of the typical flip-flop offer your foot little or no support or shock absorption and the backless design forces you to hold the shoe on your foot using your toes. All of this place tremendous strain on the joints and soft tissues of the feet and legs, predisposing wearers to conditions ranging from ankle sprains to back pain and foot sores. If you must have a pair of flip-flops, choose a pair with a thicker sole for more cushioning and avoid wearing flip-flops for extended periods of time or over any walking distance.
Making sensible footwear choices does not mean you have to be a fashion flunky, but simply that you should exercise caution and common sense when choosing your shoes. Remember, just because the shoe fits doesn’t mean you should wear it!