Inappropriate or ill-fitting shoes may harm your feet, impair your posture and strain the muscles of your legs and back. Good footwear is even more crucial during exercise. Well-designed athletic shoes help you to work out with maximum comfort and minimum risk of injury. They support and cushion your feet and absorb the impact that travels up through your ankles, knees and hips when your feet hit the ground.
Tips for Choosing Footwear:
There are two key factors to consider when buying a pair of shoes: choose a shoe with a solid construction that provides you with all the support you need; and make sure the shoe fits well. Your shoes should match the shape of your feet, fit exactly around the heels without riding down as you walk and leave plenty of room for your toes.
When choosing shoes, you need to consider the activity, the surface and your need for support.
Hard surfaces can cause foot pain and problems:
People who spend a lot of time on hard surfaces – such as concrete – are more prone to heel and forefoot pain and may develop more calluses and corns. In order to reduce stress from your feet, caused by standing on hard surfaces, wear supportive shoes (preferably lace-up) with softer soles and innersoles. Arch supports will help distribute weight over a larger surface area so that pressure is not focused on the heel and forefoot.
Lace-up boots may ease sore feet:
Lace-up boots maintain the alignment of the leg so that the muscles and ligaments on either side of the foot have even amounts of pressure placed on them. This can help to reduce foot soreness. However, lace-up boots can restrict the range of movement at the ankle joint. As a general rule, wear boots that don’t come too high above the ankle and make sure they fit comfortably around the front of the ankle, preferably with a padded tongue.
High heels can cause significant physical stress:
High-heeled shoes place the foot into an unnatural position, affecting both the foot and your posture. Prolonged periods of walking in high heels can place unnecessary stress on your back and neck, and result in permanent postural changes. It is not uncommon for women who have worn high heels for most of their working lives to find themselves in pain when they start to regularly wear flat shoes.
The high-heeled shoe also places greater pressure on the forefoot, which can cause a build-up of calluses. The pointed toe places significant pressure on the toes, which causes permanent deformity, including bunions, claw toes, corns and thickening of the nails.
Appropriate footwear is vital for playing sport:
Sportspeople require footwear that provides cushioning for shock absorption during running and jumping, and stability for side-to-side activity. Sports shoes should bend easily at the ball of the foot, and the back of the shoe should be supportive and cradle the heel to prevent injury.
Shoe inserts and insoles:
Shoe inserts can increase comfort and support, and improve foot posture. Insoles bought at pharmacies and sports stores are generally made from soft materials to one generic arch shape. While they may be adequate for some people, they do not address specific problems and are not molded to your foot. Some insoles are designed purely to redistribute body weight away from painful areas of your foot.
Podiatrists prescribe insoles to help change your foot posture. A change in foot posture may help to ease foot pain and prevent injury. A cast of your foot is usually taken in plaster and the insoles are tailored specifically to an individual’s feet. Because these devices are ‘one of a kind’, they are often more costly than those purchased over the counter.
Alternate your shoes: Alternating your shoes from one day to the next will help to vary the posture of your foot and distribute the load over a greater range of joints and muscles. It will also allow your shoes to dry out and so reduce the growth of bacteria. Alternating sports footwear allows the foam cushioning more time to ‘rebound’ (come back into shape). This may help prolong the life of your shoes.
So make sure you keep these tips in mind the next time when you head to a shoe shopping spree.