Find your sole mate
How often do you stand or walk? I’m gonna guess that’s 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 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.
According to several studies (reference below) the human foot in it’s naked form is the best anatomical shoe that you’ll ever need for the bio-mechanics of walking/running. However, we live in the real world with varying terrain, temperatures and textures. We need to adorn our feet with the latest brand name shoe in our favorite color of course...or do we?
What is your activity?
Do you spend more than 4 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 the occasional stare in the 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 the slopes, hills and stairs that we have to tackle each day. Put on the shoes and jog up and down an aisle for 5 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.
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 bio-mechanics of running/jogging/jumping. The thickness of the sole of the shoe always depends on your desired terrain. If you are on an adsorbent grassy surface may 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 lol.
If you are an avid jogger/runner consider getting a new pair of shoes every 3-6 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 a possible chronic ankle, shin splint, knee, or back ache.
The Weight Lifter
Consider a solid hard sole that runs from the toe to the heel. These shoes should be failing the shoe yoga test miserably. 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 look a likes for your heavy lifting days. If you don’t have a solid sole shoe simply slip into the feet nudity as previously mentioned your feet are anatomically designed to keep you balanced while lifting and moving.
This is simply skimming the surface when it comes to footwear. If you want to dig deeper you can reach out to a Podiatrist near you with all your research ready and prepare yourself for a comfortable workout experience.
For additional reading please reference:
Barefoot vs common footwear: A systematic review of the kinematic, kinetic and muscle activity differences during walking