Updated: Oct 22, 2020
I'm here to shine a light on the topic of footwear.
Common questions that I would be asked in the clinic are; What shoes are best for me? Which brand is the best? Do I need special shoes for my flat feet? What is better, more cushioning or less cushioning? The topic of footwear is made out to be complex however, there is a simple answer to all of these questions.
'Your shoes should be shaped to fit your feet rather than your feet shaped by your shoes.'
The more a shoe allows for the natural movement of the foot, the better the shoe. The reasoning behind this is that conventional shoes are often ill-fitted and heavily structured. Conventional shoes hold the foot in a position rather than it being able to move through it's range of motion. Conventional shoe manufacturers often design a shoe with limited movement rather than the foot being able to move freely while shod. Ideally, the shoe should move with the foot and not the foot to move with the shoe.
Some of the injuries that arise in the foot as a result of reduced mobility are:
Shin Splints (MTSS)
Some health issues that may arise in the foot are:
Toe nail death
There are 3 simple steps that can be taken to rectify most structural issues and aid in the recovery of health issues, once medical advice has been followed.
Increase movement of the foot and ankle
*This increases blood flow and lymphatic drainage to and from the foot and thus, improves joint health
* This improves the overall function of the joint and therefore reduces the likelihood of injury.
Increase Blood flow to the foot
* Greater blood flow to the foot means greater nourishment to the foot and greater removal of waste material from the lower limb.
* Overall this makes the foot more resistant to injury and health issues.
Increase Lymphatic Drainage
* The lymphatic system helps to clear away waste in the body & plays a role in immune function.
* The lymphatic system depends on movement, muscle contraction specifically.
Finally, here is a simple guide in choosing the right shoe to wear.
With a large toe box, it helps with toe splay, or toe separation. This helps with conditions like bunions and metatarsalgia and other issues with the toes. By widening our foundation, we increase stability and reduce injury.
2. 0° sole drop
The heel-toe drop is the incline from the heel to the toes, as in the picture above. An increased heel-toe drop will alter posture, causing a bend in the knees and an arch in the back, in order to remain upright. See image below.
We can clearly see the effect heel elevation has on posture. The most obvious side effect here is increased pressure on the lower back and reduced support from the core. By changing to a zero heel-toe drop we can help with chronic back pain and other postural related pain.
3. Thin Sole
A thin sole increases the sensory feedback (the foots ability to feel the ground beneath it) of the foot. By increasing the foots ability to feel, we decrease the likelihood of injury.
By changing our footwear in this way, we are investing in the foundation of our movement. There are numerous benefits, as mentioned above, with the most important being reducing the likelihood of injury.
If you are an avid walker or runner please make sure that you follow the right protocols to transition into a minimal or barefoot shoe.
If anyone has any questions regarding changing your footwear to a more minimal shoe, please don't hesitate to get in touch.