Our feet are made for walking, which is why what we put on our feet is very important. Although most people want to wear stylish shoes, sneakers, boots, and sandals, you can have the best of style, and comfort, plus support, if you know what to look for.
First and foremost for women, avoid high heels. When you stand, walk or run with your heel higher than the ball of your foot, your center of gravity (your pelvis and low back) shifts forward. This immediately does several undesirable things: It compresses the curve in your low back and it puts your calf muscles in a shortened position. Then, over time, your body is forced to make adaptive changes in response to this abnormal position; injury becomes much more likely.
If you must wear heels, wider ones are better. Platform shoes keep your feet in a more neutral position, which lessens the detrimental effects of the gravity shift. But some unwanted muscle compensations still occur.
For men and women alike, looking for foot support can take several approaches. For the most support, wear shoes that tie, have good arch support and are comfortable and fit well. Many shoe makers produce shoes for both men and women that fit these criteria and are certainly stylish. Consider wearing shoes that don’t have slippery leather soles, to improve traction.
For warm weather wear there is a wide choice of styles of sandals that offer style and good support. Look for contoured insoles and adjustable straps, which firmly hold your feet to the sandals. The more supported the top and heel of your foot are to the shoe, the less clawing action your toes need to make to maintain contact with the sandal and the less tired your feet will become.
Sneakers or athletic shoes also come in a variety of styles and are designed for various functions. The most important thing you can do when buying this type of shoe is to try them on and walk around. If they don’t feel right, don’t assume you will work them in.
Many athletic shoe makers build various compensatory corrections into shoes, which cause variations in weight bearing. For example, some shoes keep the foot from over-pronating (letting the arch of your foot drop as you put full weight on it). While this may sound good if you have a problem with over-pronation, it may actually conceal the problem so you can’t easily know why you are over-pronating in the first place. Other shoes put more pressure on the ball of the foot and still others affect how your heels strike the ground.
By thoroughly trying out a shoe, you will have a better chance to find suitable footwear. Remember, if you have flat feet, look for a very supportive sneaker that is made of firm material. But if you have a high arch make sure that the shoe is flexible. You can test for flexibility by bending the toe and heel of the sneaker toward each other to find out how much ‘give’ it offers.
Follow the same guidelines in selecting boots for work, hiking, and cold weather wear. Look for comfortable boots that provide good traction, are lightweight yet warm, have breathable material, and are supportive. If you stand all day on a hard surface, gel inserts, available at any drugstore, may prove helpful.
If your toes become numb after you walk, stand for long periods or run, you may need a slightly larger size of shoe. In a confined space, numbness often occurs because feet may slightly swell with changes in activity level or temperature. Make sure the shoe’s toe box affords ample room so that your toes don’t feel squished.
When tying shoes, place your weight on the ball of your foot by slightly raising the heel and pulling the shoe to your foot. This offers a more comfortable fit in contrast to the traditional way of tying a shoe in which you put weight of your heel and mold your foot to the shoe. Replace shoes that look unevenly worn or that start to lose their paired symmetrical shape.
And listen to your body. If you develop calluses or blisters after wearing a new pair of shoes, they may not be right for you.
When you get right down to it, your shoes should fit like a glove!