Look down at your feet. Go ahead, we’ll wait.
If you’re wearing shoes, are they good shoes? And by “good” shoes, we mean good-to-your-feet shoes. Do they give you the kind of support your foot really needs? Do you know what kind of support that is for your unique feet?
Our feet carry our entire weight, and when we wear shoes that don’t offer them the support they need in the places they need it, we can end up with more than just a need for a foot rub at the end of the day. Not giving your feet the shoes that support them can cause you serious discomfort as well as health issues later on.
So, take a close look at your shoes once more. Just how much support are you getting down there?
De-feet Defective Footwear
Let’s begin with a brief overview of the most common criminals in the gang of bad shoes. The design of these shoe types leaves something—or much—to be desired in terms of proper support for your feet. Some of them are so disastrous to your feet that they barely deserve to be called shoes.
Let’s call this group the lack-of-support lackluster shoe crew:
- Flip flops – What was once a style of footwear meant solely for the bath house, shower room, or beach has become everyday footwear. Their original purpose was to protect your feet from dirt, germs, wetness, and sharp objects on the ground or floor. That’s it. And for the short term that you are supposed to wear them, they do an excellent job. However, their design speaks to their original temporary-wear purpose. They have absolutely no arch support. Ankle support is completely missing, too. Protection from harm from above? That’s not there, either.
- Flats – Ballet flats may have made Audrey Hepburn’s signature style, but they’ll only give you grief and foot problems. And it’s a good bet that even Audrey didn’t wear them all day, every day. Whether your preferred flat is Audrey’s ballet-style dress shoe or your flat-bottomed Keds tennis shoes, you’re not doing your arches or ankles any good. And if your flats are thin-soled, you could risk bruising the bottom of your feet, too.
- Stilettos – Stiletto heels and other high-rise shoes are incredibly bad for your feet and ankles, and possibly even your knees. The human body was not meant to be balanced on the balls of the feet and the toes for hours on end. Nor was it made to have its weight supported by a tiny thin stick under the heel. Drop dead sexy heels can have your ankles, toes, and knees all dropping in pain by the end of the night.
So what makes them so bad, our lackluster crew? Like any street gang, they have several villainous traits in common:
- Lack of arch support. The middle of your foot that doesn’t touch the floor is your arch. It’s not meant to touch the floor. But it is meant to help support some of the weight of your body. By not supporting it, your shoes are allowing your body’s weight to push it down toward the floor. This can cause pain, discomfort, and eventual deformation of your foot.
- Lack of ankle support. Without good ankle support, you can easily twist or even sprain your ankles. While not a serious injury, ankle twists and sprains can be painful and keep you down for a day or two.
- Cramped toe boxes. That neat, pointed toe on the front of your stiletto? That’s going to cost you some serious toe hurt. Narrow toes, especially on shoes that place your weight forward, can cause hammer toe, bunions, blisters, and other injuries and deformities of the toes.
- Narrow heels/wide heels. Depending on the shape of your foot, a shoe that doesn’t fit properly in the heel can lead to blisters from pinching or rubbing, a lack of ankle support (if they allow the foot to slip or slide sideways in the shoe) and a thickening of the skin on the back of your heel and ankle.
Good Soles to the Rescue
You can stamp out the lackluster shoe crew and give your feet the love and support they need by ensuring that your shoes do their job. Properly supportive shoes have the following characteristics:
- They fit well. Have your feet professionally measured so that you know the precise size and shape of shoe that will fit you best. You can find your shoe size, width, and heel width and know exactly the proper shoes to buy.
- They have lower, wider heels. Pumps and pump-like heels have been around for centuries for a reason. So have men’s boots with low, broad heels. They distribute the weight of your body more evenly across your foot. They give your ankles and knees plenty of solid support. And they have nice round or square toes to give your tootsies plenty of room, too.
- They have arch support. If your shoes don’t have enough arch support—and they may not, as everyone’s arch is different—invest in some good inserts that will cushion and support your arches properly. Gel inserts offer a great deal of comfort and cooling, while foam inserts often conform to your foot faster and feel more comfortable sooner than their gel-filled cousins. You can even invite lackluster flats back into your closet by introducing them to some comfy inserts.
You need not sacrifice fashion for function, or style for safety. Most “good” shoes come in a wide variety of styles and fashions to choose from. Just because you choose pumps over 7-inch heels doesn’t mean you can’t still look drop-dead sexy in your little black dress, after all. Just because your run-of-the-mill flip-flops are banned from your toes (except for their intended short-term purpose) doesn’t mean you can’t flaunt a new pedicure in a supportive pair summertime sandals.
Now give those feet a nice stretch and a little rub—they deserve it, and so do you.