The average American walks anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 steps a day, although we should strive for 10,000. Now ask yourself: How many of those steps do you take in uncomfortable or non-supportive shoes? We tend to ignore our feet unless forced to do so by pain. However, doing this has effects that resonate throughout the body. Supportive footwear can help ease the agony of the feet (bad pun but serious statement).
- Pay attention to your arches. Proper arch support goes a long way toward keeping your feet healthy. In fact, our feet take on 200,000 to 300,000 lbs. of stress for each mile we walk. And because not everyone has the same degree of arch, it’s important to find shoes that fit best for your foot. Know as well that age, pregnancy and weight gain can affect your arches. The height of your arch will also determine how much your foot pronates, or rotates from one side to another. Proper arch support keeps your foot from over- or under-pronating, causing foot pain.
- The foot impacts the rest of the body. Extremes in pronation affect more than just the foot. Your knee and hip can get out of joint, placing extra pressure on your shin, thigh, pelvis and back. Poor footwear can lead to shin splints, hip and back ailments, tendon and ligament injuries of the lower leg, and kneecap inflammation, especially if you’re using the wrong shoes to strenuously exercise. For example, running in a shoe that doesn’t properly fit can have you walking or limping for months because of a pulled knee ligament, derailing your training.
- Choose function over fashion. Most of us want to look our best, but too often the shoes that look “best” are the worst for our feet, particularly in women’s fashion. A poorly fitting shirt or pair of pants may feel uncomfortable, but tight or uncomfortable shoes that cause blisters or sore feet can have long-lasting effects. The problem is we tend to equate “orthopedic” with “ugly,” so we don’t wear shoes with proper support. Fortunately, companies have recognized this, and there are those out there that manage to be supportive yet stylish with just a little searching. If you simply must have your favorite high heels or dress shoes, occasionally give them a break by mixing in something better for your feet.
When you buy your next pair of shoes, consider your feet. They have the thankless job of keeping you up all day. The more support you give them, the better they’ll support you.