When they say looks can kill… its probably true.

We all know everybody likes to look their best. Your attire can say a lot if you’re trying to make an impression.  I’m here to tell you not to worry so much about what you’re wearing… but more about ‘how’ what you are wearing can be the major reason for those aches and pains in your body.

So to give you a deeper insight I’m stirring up one of fashions biggest items – shoes – They say you can tell a person by their shoes. In my experience of massage therapy I’ve found the type of shoes that somebody wears can cause serious feet, ankle, knee and back pain.

It’s important to know that the design of our body wasn’t meant for ‘additional’ items to be secured on to us. That’s right; we weren’t born with shoes or even clothes and fortunately for the well being of our kind these have been crafted to protect us in continuously varying weather conditions.

But, not all of these items (namely shoes) have been made to suit our natural function. This is where looks can kill! Many shoes that are made for casual wear, work or formal attire can be quite tough on our feet.

In our pattern of walking there are three main stages:

  1. Heel Strike: The outer-side of your heel makes contact with the ground (your foot is rigid and is in a ‘locked’ position)
  2. Mid-stance: The sole of your foot makes contact with the ground (your foot ‘unlocks’ and becomes mobile to adapt to the ground you are walking on and to allow weight and gravity to distribute evenly in your body)
  3. Toe-off: Your foot in contact with the ground is moved up onto your toes and your body propels from here. (Your foot becomes rigid and ‘locks’ again to allow a strong push-off with your toes from the ground).

To summarise the three points above, your foot pattern from the first stage of contact would look like this:

Locked – unlocked – locked.

A lot of casual shoes have a flat sole and are quite flexible. The disadvantage is that there is no support for the arches in your feet. If you always wear flat soled shoes your arches may collapse. This puts your foot in an ‘unlocked’ position and therefore it loses its rigidity. Thus, it reduces the potential strength it would normally give to keep you supported for a fit walking pattern.

A lot of work and formal shoes are the opposite. These shoes tend to have a slight raised heel and are quite rigid. The disadvantage here is that the more rigid shoe doesn’t allow your foot to unlock easily. Therefore your foot loses its mobility and ability to fully adapt to the ground you are walking on.  If your foot remains rigid and locked your bodyweight plus gravity will continue to send shock down the outside of your body instead of distributing it evenly. Try walking only on your heels for five minutes!

Both of these types of shoes have the ability to cause serious foot, ankle, knee and back pain because they place your feet in an excessively unlocked position (flat soles) or an excessively locked position (work/formal shoes). These prolonged positions can easily send discomfort up the body not even realising its all starting from the feet.

Your muscles then have to work harder than normal to sustain equilibrium and thus increasing the risk of fatigue, tightness and injury. As your balance also becomes altered (even slightly) other parts of your body begin to compensate to make sure you don’t fall over.  Thus, your body is constantly on overdrive and will only get more tired and weak until you treat your muscles and improve your footwear.

If you are feeling sore in any of these areas, have a look at your footwear. A common sign may be wearing down of either side of the heels in your shoes. Do you have high arches or fallen arches? Do your toes look as if to be squashed together? Is your big toe crooked? It’s important to be aware of these things because it can reduce and prevent a lot of discomfort for the weight-bearing joints in your body.

For the ladies, if there’s one part of this article you should pay attention on, it’s here. As for high heels – take the problems mentioned in this article that come with poor footwear and ten-fold it. I’m not kidding either. If that doesn’t change your mind, you have a higher risk of fracturing your foot than those who choose not to wear high heels.

So to be realistic here, it is important to maintain the condition of your muscles as we continue to wear shoes. Some of you may not have a choice of the type of shoe you wear. However some of you do and you should choose a good quality shoe that supports but also allows for mobility within your foot. They do exist! In both situations the measures you take along with the shoes you wear can make all the difference in the avoidance of pain or injury.

Massage therapy, learning specific stretches and Acupuncture can help improve the condition of your muscles that may be tense or injured from poor footwear or prolonged use of rigid or unsupported shoes. If you’d like to make an appointment for a massage treatment please call 02 92 333 800 and ask for Gloria. I might even be able to recommend a good pair of shoes for you. You can also email me on gloria@backonyourfeet.com.au