Why Should You Go Buy New Shoes

With the invention of smarter, fancier, and innovative pedometers walking more steps everyday has taken off. It is not uncommon for someone to look on their wrist to see how many steps they've taken throughout the day. Walking is one of the safest and easiest ways to add movement and increase your non-exercise activity throughout the day. 

If you are going to walk 10,000 steps in a day you should ensure that you are walking well and have the correct shoes on your feet. 

Walking with lower back pain, bunions and calluses on your feet is not a symptom of hard work. Those are symptoms of poor walking technique, and tissue restrictions. 

One of the amazing things about the body is that it can adapt and you have the power to bring it back to great form. 

Today I want to address an overlooked topic which is the type of shoes you invest in. The sneakers you select can make a huge difference in how you perform your fitness and leisure activity. Besides sitting incorrectly, your biggest enemy to good walking is the wrong shoes. Your feet are a marvelous feat of engineering. But they aren't designed for all the high heels, artificial support and never ending inches of foam cushioning. 

Well, what shoes are bad?

Enemy #1
High Heels
High heels limit the range of motion at the ankle. Take a moment and think about standing on your toes all day. That causes your heel cords and calves to be in a shortened position (flexed). When you start to miss out on ankle range of motion your body will compensate by turning your feet out. Walking in high heels also pushes your center of mass forward which puts unwanted stress on your spine. My tip would be to reserve them for special occasions only if you can. 

Enemy #2
Dress Shoes
Yes they are shiny and look amazing with a nice pair of slacks. You look distinguished and dapper. Like high heels, this type of shoe has firm heel caps and stiff leather which kills ankle mobility. Stiff shoes ruin your sense of your foot position and movement. They destroy your walking mechanics by making you feel comfortable with striking the ground with only the heel of your foot. 

Enemy #3
Cushioned Athletic Shoes
These shoes are popular. At some point the shoe world got a hold of us and led us to believe that we should feel like we are walking on air. That soft cushion gives you a false sense of reality because they can absorb the shock generated by poor mechanics. But cushy shoes only exaggerate all the negative adaptations that come along with walking poorly. I'll put it like this. What if you walked around with padded gloves on your hands all day? It would effect how you picked things up off the ground and it might even lead to some carelessness because you had this tool that was protecting you. 

Enemy #4
Flip Flops
When you wear flip flops you have to clench your big toes to keep the shoes on your feet. How can that not change the way you walk? I love that flip flops are flat but you are not reaping the benefits by clenching your feet in order to take a step. Common injuries are achilles problems, plantar fasciitis, and overly stiff ankles

Shoes should provide grip and protection from sharp objects. They shouldn't change the way our biomechanics operate.  

When I rehab poor walking mechanics the first thing I recommend is being barefoot as often as possible. It improves your balance, posture and gives you better self awareness. Don't be the creepy person in the grocery store with no shoes on. But you can def start by not wearing shoes around the house. 

I get that shoes are about style. But there are companies out there that understand people are getting a grasp on this health kick. More zero drop shoes are coming to market now. Cross Fit Nano, New Balance Minimus, Merrell Trail Glove and the Nike MetCon are some of my favorites. 

I'm sure you have a job that might permit you to wear a dress shoe. But is it possible to change out of them at your work station? Wearing high heels, dress shoes, or flip flops a few hours a week won't hurt you. But if you are wearing them day in and day out then we have some work to do to restore your good foot mechanics.