Your shoes are an important component of your physical health. The average person takes thousands of steps a day, and if you exercise that can mean thousands more. How you cushion and support your feet for that daily grind has many health benefits.
Good shoes serve two key functions: they provide cushioning to absorb shock and support your feet to keep you in alignment. Unfortunately many fashionable shoes accomplish neither. High heels for example shift your posture from your feet all the way up through your spine. Subjecting your body to that sort of constant misalignment can have many adverse long term health effects, from sciatica to osteoarthritis. Lets not forget the foot itself, where heels force an uneven distribution of your weight. This can lead to painful bunions and other bone and joint problems that might require surgery.
The first step in proper foot health is to find the best shoes for you and to change them often. Although everyone's needs are different, generally you want some cushioning with a high level of support. Many of our patients make the mistake of not changing their shoes often enough, especially their sneakers. The internal structure of your sneaker breaks down more quickly than the outside, so if you are only changing your sneakers whenever they start to look old you are probably waiting too long.
Next, you want to vary the type of shoe that you wear. If you have to wear heels for work then try commuting in sneakers. If you wear one kind of loafers during the day switch to a different pair when you go out to dinner. Your feet are constantly molding themselves to whatever shoe you are wearing, so the more variety in footwear the better off you'll be. Heels for example shorten the tendons that run along the back of your foot as well as your calf muscles. By regularly switching out of them into flats you can stretch those tendons and prevent chronic tightness.
You might also benefit from additional orthotics placed inside your shoes. A common misconception is that these are only for people with flat fleet, but they also address other issues. Consult with one of our physical therapists to see if you could benefit from them.