How often do you stand or walk? I’m going to guess that it’s most of your waking day.
Your feet are in a constant relationship with gravity and those actions that most of us are well acquainted with, such as running, walking and simply standing. Let’s put on our layman podiatrist hats and ponder for a second.
What do you have on your feet right now? Are they comfortable? Can you easily wiggle all of your toes? Do you have corns? Is your little toe crying for freedom? Depending on your answer you might need to buy new shoes. If you are blessed with having the opportunity to walk, run or lift, you have to consider what type of shoes you’ll be wearing and, more importantly, what to avoid. Studies show that the human foot in its naked form is the best anatomical shoe that you’ll ever need for the biomechanics of walking/running.
However, we live in the real world with varying terrain, temperatures and textures. We need to adorn our feet with brand- name shoes, in our favourite colour of course. Or do we?
What is your activity?
• General activity
Do you spend more than four hours on your feet at work? Find a pair of shoes with the perfect wiggle room for all the little piggies. Make sure that they are the correct width for your narrow, or not so narrow, feet. A common-sense technique to finding the ideal width and length is your ability to simply step out of your shoes if they are fully unlaced.
It might seem a little crazy fully unlacing shoes just before your purchase but your comfort is worth more than a stare in a shoe store. Ideally, it would be great to have a certain level of cushioning throughout the sole of your shoe to absorb and dissipate some of the pressure that is exerted on your feet while navigating any slopes, hills and/or stairs that you might have to tackle.
Put on the shoes and jog up and down an aisle for five seconds. I know how weird this might look or feel but remember, you are going to be spending months with these shoes. Five seconds of jogging can give you feedback on the comfort level based on your specific needs.
• The runner
Grab your shoe and attempt to do a concave flex from the toe to the heel with the hope that the heel and toe will easily touch.
If your shoe easily passes the “shoe yoga test” it has a more than adequate flex for the biomechanics of running/jogging/jumping. The thickness of the sole of the shoe always depends on your terrain. If you are on an absorbent grassy surface, allow for a thin-sole jogging shoe.
For wooden or pavement floors consider getting a thicker and more absorbent sole. You have to pick your perfect sole mate. See what we did there?
If you are an avid runner, consider getting a new pair of shoes every three to six months depending on your mileage. It might sound expensive but trust me you are worth it. Take it easy on your joints and bones. Upon signs of wear and tear consider swapping those old shoes for some new ones. It’s better that the shoes go than chronic ankle, shin, knee or back ache.
• The weightlifter
Consider a solid, hard sole from the toe to the heel. While lifting you want a solid foundation. The softer, pliable soles of jogging shoes can cause micro shifts throughout your kinetic chain while lifting which can, in turn, cause postural problems.
Postural problems lead to poor technique. Poor technique leads to possible injuries. You can grab your Converse or Converse lookalikes for your heavy lifting days. If you don’t have a solid sole shoe, don’t wear anything.
This is simply skimming the surface when it comes to footwear. If you want to dig deeper, speak with a podiatrist.
Learn more about barefoot versus footwear here.
• Dre Hinds is a retired track and field athlete who is now a personal trainer, aerobic and yoga instructor with more than 20 years’ experience. She operates out of HindsSight Fitness and Wellness at the Berkeley Cultural Centre. Contact her on: firstname.lastname@example.org or 599-0412. Find her on Facebook and Instagram under @Absbydre