One thing that I’ve been passionate about my whole life is shoes. Now, it hasn’t always been the same TYPE of passion.
For instance, in high school and college, I was passionate about HAVING shoes. The more shoes, the better.
Now, I’m passionate about PROPER shoes. Because, as it turns out, your shoes may be killing your body.
Let me explain…
Your shoes are everything to the performance of your feet and your body. That probably isn’t a HUGE surprise to you. After all, you’ve been told over and over again that you need arch supports, big soles, and motion control technology if you want to keep your feet healthy.
However, that’s all a lie…
As I mentioned, shoes are everything to the performance of your body. And if we take a normal pair of workout shoes and break them down, we can begin to see how, contrary to popular belief, those thick-soled, high-heeled, motion-controlled shoes are actually aging you quicker.
Let’s start from the bottom and take a look at the sole of a shoe first…
Most shoes have a nice, thick, cushiony sole to them. Marketers tell you this is important for your body and feet because it protects them from high-impact activities.
However, when you put cushion between you and the ground, your foot loses its ability to sense the floor. In other words, considering the foot contains 25% of the body’s sensory nerves, your foot is unable to keep you stable effectively because it doesn’t know how to adapt.
Less stability = less balance.
At the same time, that cushion is also acting as a brace for your feet. If you’ve ever had a brace or cast on your arm, hand, or leg before, you know how restricting it is. Similarly, wearing shoes with thick soles restricts the activity of your foot muscles, causing them to become weak and frail.
Weak foot muscles = achy feet
Next, let’s take a look at the heel of your shoe. When I say “high-heeled shoes,” most people think of pumps. But the truth of the matter is, anything that has a positive heel (AKA the heel is higher than the toe) is a high-heeled shoe.
So, take a second to look at your gym shoes. If you have a pair from any major brand, it’s likely high-heeled in nature.
The reason this is a BIG deal is that when your heel is lifted above your toe on a normal basis, your whole body must adapt to the new weight distribution.
Your knees take on more pressure…
Your hips have to shift forward which…
Causes your spine to go out of alignment.
Yes, the heel on your gym shoe is causing all of this to happen.
Finally, let’s take a look at the toe box and the SIZE of your shoe. The toe box is the front of the shoe where your toes sit (hence the obvious name). For most gym shoes, the toe box is pretty narrow and comes to a point.
To go along with this, most people wear their shoes small because, well, they just assume that a shoe should be tight fitting. However, to this end, your foot actually GROWS as you age. This is why it’s important that you re-measure your feet when you get shoes.
Now, considering the SMALL toe box and SMALL shoe size, think about how those little piggies feel being squeezed into that tiny little space. Probably pretty claustrophobic.
Jammed-up toes = hammertoes
So, what does a PROPER pair of shoes look like?!
Well, if you take what we’ve learned so far and do the COMPLETE opposite, then you have the perfect shoe.
NOOOO heel (this is called “zero drop”)…
And big toe box with a correct fit.
I personally recommend the Merrel Vapor series, but there are plenty of good brands out there.
Until next time, take care of those footsies. They will carry you to the end.