Do your feet hurt by the end of the day? So do mine and, I’ll bet if you ask one out of every ten people the same question, you will get a similar response. Why? Shoes are slowly killing your feet!
Take off your shoes for a minute …you’re probably saying “ahh” right now…that’s because, although shoes provide humans a way to walk on concrete without getting glass in our feet, they also change our gait from a “natural” to a “normal” one in the process.
What’s the difference between walking “naturally” and “normally” you ask? With my investigation came a bevy of answers to the age old question, “What’s Causing My Aching Feet?”
William A. Rossi, D.P.M. believes that people in non-shoe wearing societies, who walk with feet directly touching the ground, enjoy a natural gait while folks who trod in footgear possess a normal gait, one corrected to a basic standard of perambulation.
“It is biomechanically impossible (to walk naturally) because of the forced alterations from the natural in foot stance, postural alignment, body balance, equilibrium, body mechanics and weight distribution caused by shoes,” maintains Dr. Rossi.
The “heel-to-ball-to toes and push-off” natural stride which we do unconsciously while walking barefoot becomes compromised changing our balance and forcing us to adjust our body weight from head to toe in order to compensate for the shoes’ inherent design faults.
Since barefooting is not practical, what can a person do to minimize shoe abuse?
The obvious answer is to find shoes which cause the least stress on the body. Shoes which are lightweight and breathable with a low heel, a natural roll for flexibility in the step and which provide an adequate toe box will provide wearers with the least amount of discomfort and pain over the long term.
In this department, men might score better than ladies as it is difficult to sacrifice glamour for comfort but, perhaps if we examine a few of the design flaws and what can happen to feet over time, the correct choice will be obvious.
A few design flaws in shoes and the physical ailments they can cause:
Shoes that have inflexible soles can cause Achilles Tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendon in the back of the ankle which can lead to pain, swelling and a slow recovery due to a limited blood supply to the area.
A lack of insole support or shoes that are worn down unevenly in the heels or soles can cause foot pain to the heels of your feet. This type of pain is known as plantar fasciitis and is the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes. Repairing the damage done by plantar fasciitis include physical therapy exercises like calf stretches and orthotics to stabilize the feet.
High heels, especially six- inchers like stilettos, are probably the biggest total body destroyers accounting for everything from a total transformation in your gait, right down to a shift in your stance, balance issues, low back pain and, of course, unbearable foot pain.
Are modern humans who trek in some form of foot enclosure doomed to suffer or are there ways to improve our quality of our stride? The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggests strength and flexibility exercises to strengthen and condition the muscle groups of the lower leg, calf and heel. Make sure that, if your body or feet are a constantly in some kind of pain, see a doctor, chiropractor or physical therapist to prescribe the right kind of help for your problem.