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Five Tips for Healthy Shoes

How do you choose the best footwear? What makes a “good” shoe? Is it comfortable? (Yes.) Here are five tips for picking shoes that support your foot’s form and function.

#1 Find a shoe that is wide enough for your foot

There should be enough space all the way around your foot that you can wiggle your toes. If your foot is wider than the shoe, then the shoe is too narrow. Long-term, narrow shoes can contribute to bunions and other foot problems. Being able to freely move your toes also helps you balance when standing, walking, or running. This is especially important on uneven terrain. In general, if a shoe width is not listed, standard size is B width for women’s shoes and C width for men’s shoes. Seek out shoes that have different sizes for width as well as length in order to find the fit that is best for you.

#2 Good shoes do not need to be “broken in”

Find a shoe that is comfortable as soon as you try it on. If it is uncomfortable, rubs or pinches, or the heel slips, the shoe does not fit. Wearing uncomfortable athletic shoes will discourage you from exercising. If your everyday shoes cause pain and discomfort, this can impact foot form and function over time, influencing your overall wellness.

#3 Choose flat shoes

Even a slightly raised heel will put extra pressure on your toes, change your center of gravity, and impede your balance and foot mechanics. Feet have an arched structure that allows them to propel you forward when walking or running, but the heel and the toes are on the same plane. That is, when you are barefoot your heel is naturally on the same level as your toes. Therefore, this should be the case when wearing shoes if you want to keep your feet healthy. According to Andrew Biel, author and illustrator of “Trail Guide to the Body,” the point of a high heel worn by an average-sized woman will exert nearly 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch with every step taken. When wearing high heels, some of this force is taken by the heel and transferred through the rest of the body.

#4 Find shoes with flexible soles that bend at the ball of the foot

Feet are very flexible, allowing them to adapt easily to different surfaces in order to maintain balance and posture. Shoes should be flexible in order to maintain foot function. In particular, shoes should be able to bend easily at the ball of the foot (where your foot bends normally when you are barefoot).   

#5 Plan reflexology sessions following occasions when you wear less functional shoes

If you insist on wearing shoes that do not support your foot form and function, plan on reflexology as one way to help your feet recover. Most people have experienced sore feet or legs, or back pain at some point following a work or social engagement when they were wearing stylish, yet dysfunctional shoes. It can be difficult to find shoes that are fashionable, yet still support foot structure and function. If you wear properly fitting shoes most of the time, you are more likely to be able to get away with occasionally wearing uncomfortable shoes. To avoid long-term impacts, reflexology can help sore bodies by supporting circulation to injured areas, promoting relaxation, and reducing stress, pain, and tension. At Mpath, LLC we offer individual reflexology sessions and also create personalized reflexology self-care home programs so clients can make reflexology part of a regular wellness routine.

Melanie Giangreco