Shoes: What you put on your feet matters

You’re probably a very busy person with responsibilities to worry about and fun activities to take part in. On a day-to-day basis, you probably don’t give much thought to the shoes that you put on your feet. But you really should.

A recent episode of Freakanomics focused on the history of shoes and how they have impacted humans’ ability to walk, run, and do other mobile activities. Experts on the matter discussed the benefits of shoes and why they might have been developed, including social order and a need to protect feet from elements such as cold, water, and rough surfaces.

They also delved into how shoes have perhaps negatively affected our feet. Why, several of the experts asked, do we force our feet into small “coffins?” One researcher even presented evidence that our feet have adjusted so much to modern padded footwear that the way we run and the way that our joints are aligned have changed. Another noted that she is hoping to help spark a “decade of the foot,” and she has even taken to walking around Manhattan in only her socks.

Although I was not part of the debate, I remain passionate about healthy feet and ankles, so the conversation caught my interest. I regularly see patients who are dealing with a variety of foot conditions, including sports injuries, cartilage issues, fractures, ligament tears, and weakened ankles. During appointments with my clients, I like to talk about footwear and how certain shoes can make a big difference in the health of our feet.

In general, shoes play an important part in the safety of our feet. After all, you wouldn’t want to take to the football field or soccer stadium without appropriate gear. Likewise, you wouldn’t want to scale an icy mountain without the proper boots.

At the same time, ensuring that the shoes we do put on our feet fit well and work with our natural arch is key to maintaining proper health. High heels, for example, place a lot of unnecessary strain on feet and ankles, but they are often viewed as a fashionable accessory so these concerns tend to be overlooked. Some people squeeze into tight or pointy shoes for style or convenience, and putting feet in these situations can lead to issues like bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas. Although these and other conditions are treatable, it’s best to avoid them altogether by simply selecting the correct footwear.

Perhaps above all, if you think that your shoes or other factors are causing foot or ankle issues in your life, it’s essential that you do not put off a proper examination. If you are experiencing abnormal aches and pains, are hearing strange popping from your joints, or have noticed significant changes in the way your feet are shaped, you should schedule an appointment with an expert

If you have questions about what you should or should not be wearing, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always happy to discuss your foot health.