Some shoes may not be made for walking. Find out how your choice of footwear can affect your overall health.
There is half an hour left before her class begins. Angela Mahoney walks in with her cheetah print leggings and a black tank top. She sits on the couch and puts on her thigh high heeled boots. It will be another hour of dancing in heels.
“I love heels. It has a special place in my heart,” Mahoney said, a professional dancer and choreographer of seven years. “I love celebrating the feminine aspect of it and it’s just fun to be girly.”
You may not be a professional dancer or dance in heels often, but brands like Loubotin, Jeffery Campbells or the sales at Aldo or Steve Madden might be hard to ignore. From sparkling ones to cute flats even, footwear definitely adds the extra strut to any outfit.
Footwear is a lifestyle, whether you use it for its aesthetics or function. It’s good to know which pair will give you the most benefits. The foot is our “foundation”, as both Podiatrist Robert Chelin and Chiropodist Eddie Chan admits. This means we need to take better care of it for a healthier lifestyle. “When I educate my patients, I always tell them, the thicker the better,” Chan said. “Thicker out-soles, thicker shoe in general with more cushion. When there’s more distance between you and the ground for shock absorption.”
Those cute sneakers with a nice arch or even wedge sneakers are good alternatives for a casual outfit. Even Chelin recommends looking at Fit Flops, a brand of footwear catered to making shoes look good and feel comfortable.
“If you do everything within balance in life. I think things will last and be more durable, ” Chelin said. “My advice to women is always vary the heel height.”
As for an athletic lifestyle, and those who run marathons you also have to find other ways to keep that balance.
“I say start training for triathlons. Start using your upper body, swim, do some cycling. Take some pressure off your back and knees,” Chelin said. “So now the load becomes distributed over greater areas for a greater period of time.”
Any footwear can affect your body in ways you may not even realize. Bunions, Achilles tendon tightening, heel or back problems, etc. Can all be the results of improper footwear. But not to fret, your style or profession do not have to be compromised.
“Nobody can stop [you] from wearing that footwear,” Chan said. “But you can make them more comfortable, with padding or over the counter products. If they already have issues they can put their orthotics in.”
From working out, physically demanding professions, working in heels at an office or even just running errands in flats instead of running shoes, our lives have been hectic and the feet can suffer. So before you head out as the busy bee that you are make sure you take the time to get yourself checked.
“It becomes incumbent upon the patients to know a little bit about their problems,” Chelin said. “I think the public needs to take a little bit more responsibility of awareness. Where do they get it? Fine, their family doctor can give them info, but they have limited knowledge and knows the basic stuff. Obviously that’s where we (podiatrists) fill in the role.”
Smart purchases are also ideal.
“Before you go buy a shoe you have to understand what your foot type is and what the potential problems that may occur if you’re not wearing a certain type of classification,” Chelin said. “I always tell my patients when you go and buy shoes, try to go to a reputable store and deal with the manager. The manager knows the product better than the weekend part time worker… This is especially on the purchase of shoes that’s now going to be a performance item for you.”
If a podiatrist or going to a chiropodist may not always be your cup of tea, a good way to at least recognize the type of feet you have can be done at home.
“Put your foot on top of a shoe or take an imprint of that. And then look at the imprint of the actual shoe and see if it fits,” Chan said. “If your foot is wider than the imprint of the shoe you know there’s an issue. If you do that first thing in the morning, your foot will swell in the day no matter what.”
This basically means not getting shoes that are too tight for your toes or do not have a lot of cushion. Balance is a highly recommended remedy. It is a way to help prevent problems and as Chan believes, “Prevention is always better than curing or fixing the problem after the fact. So if you are wearing bad shoes, you are going to pay for it eventually in life.” So if you wear heels often, mix it up with shoes that will not cause more calluses or pressure on your heel and back. Wear shoes with arches and not always the ballet flats (surprisingly Fit Flops do have cute and functional alternatives) Take Epsom salt baths for those long days at work or training and always listen to your body when it’s trying to tell you something. Better safe than sorry ladies, keep strutting and stay healthy!