Why shoes matter

May 21, 2017

It's sandal season. The weather is hot and nothing feels better than letting your skin breathe. 

Wearing flip flops might feel ok for a while but to keep those suckers from falling off as we walk you'll notice that you bunch up your toes. This shortens your plantar fascia and can lead to plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, and can actually change your gait pattern. (Which again can lead to ankle, knee, hip, and low back issues) Everything is connected, but you already knew that right?

A lot of y'all also come in wearing very thick heeled shoes. Sure they're comfortable, why wouldn't you want to feel like you're walking on a cloud, but they come with some problems of their own.
Let's look at what heels do, high heels or tennis shoes with a cushioned heel tighten our quadriceps and gastrocnemius and soleus (shorten) which will naturally effect (lengthen) its antagonist muscle the Tibilas anterior and your hamstrings. This position promotes an excessive anterior pelvic tilt. This tilt is what sways your low back in, leading to hip impingement issues, putting excessive pain and pressure in your lumbar spine, and can even lead to forward head posture, etc (everything is connected, right). 


So not only is your body put out of alignment the extra cushion makes us too comfortable. In a sense we forget how to use our feet. In your foot you have what are called intrinsic foot muscles. When these muscles aren't used it can lead to osteoarthritis, hammer foot, etc.

If you can look down at your foot and see your toes excessively turned inward as well as the presence of hammer foot or bunions this means
1. You need to do foot exercises
2. You really need some new kicks.

So now you know just the tip of what a bad pair of shoes can do so let's remedy it shall we? First and foremost the simplest solution is to ditch those shoes. Spend time barefoot, and for casual wear look for a shoe what is minimalist.
We want:
1. A wide foot bed. Your toes need room for extension when you're walking. A narrow foot bed pushes your toes together not allowing for natural movement and weakened foot muscles.
2. Foot drop. We don't want it. A flat shoe will do wonders.
3. If you're looking for sandals then find some that strap around your foot and ankle.

Here are my favorites;

Casual and athletic shoes:
http://www.newbalance.com/minimus/
http://www.merrell.com/US/en/barefoot-2/

Sandals:
https://shammasandals.com
https://www.earthrunners.com
http://www.teva.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-TEVA-US-Site/default/Home-Show

Now here are some intrinsic foot exercises.

http://arcphysicaltherapy.com/2014/strengthening-the-core-muscles-of-the-foot/

 

Some of these can be downright frustrating. Your nervous system and muscles work together. You have to reteach some of these neural grooves to get things going again. 

 

When I started I couldn't lift my toes individually off the floor. For a while I just stared at my big toe trying to figure out why I couldn't get it to move. After a lot of patience and practice (yes I still do these exercises) my feet feel and move so much better.

 

For an individualized assessment and plan please email sanangelosc@gmail.com to set up a personal session. 

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