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Top view of feet of people standing in a circle. Runners standing in a huddle with their feet together.

The Secret Behind Finding Comfy Shoes

Like most of you guys I’m on them most of the day and that means I go for comfort these days in my footwear.  My high heels rarely get an outing now but coming up to Christmas I am always determined to dust them off and have at least one epic spin around a dance floor before they retreat and hide back in my wardrobe for another year.  In my head I walk in my heels like I’m on a catwalk but the sad and rather comical reality is that I look more like a baby giraffe learning to walk!

Walking does not feel natural in my heels and hangover aside, the following days after a party outing leave my feet pretty sore and often the rest of me too.

Why is this?  Several reasons actually but today I am going to focus on just one.  I want you to think about your most comfortable pair of shoes, in fact, go and find them now.  You know,  the ones you love wearing that are probably really old but you can’t bring yourself to throw out and certainly can’t find a pair that can replace them!

I want you to do two things to your shoes;

  1. Bend them in half and see if the front of the shoe can bend towards the back of the shoe.
  2. Twist them and see if the back of the shoe can go in the opposite direction to the front of the shoe (both directions).

What did you find? Do they move?  Now go find a pair that are uncomfortable but you still love to wear and repeat the same test.  What is the difference?

I suspect you will find your most comfortable shoes will have more bend and twist than the un-comfy pair.

Now for the anatomy.  Drum role….your feet are supposed to move!  Each foot is made up of 26 bones (remember that for Triv!) and 33 joints.

All of which are controlled by your brain activating the muscles in your lower leg and foot itself.  The joints allow the foot to move in lots of ways but there are 2 main combined movements that act as a spring to propel us when we walk, run or dance. These movements are called;

1. Fanning: the foot fans, flattens and lengthens out

2. Folding: the foot folds, shortens and recoils under

In walking, fanning occurs when you land on your heel and bring your weight fully onto your leg and folding occurs when your weight moves towards the front of your foot and you push off (propel).  Shoes should accommodate these movements.  When these movements are limited or blocked the foot can’t behave optimally.

So,  question time,  if you wear a rigid shoe with no bend or twist in it do you think your foot stands a chance of fanning and folding optimally? NO! So now think about those shoes that make your feet hurt…are they letting your foot move optimally? NO! Now think about your comfy shoes.  Do they allow your feet to move more?  More likely YES!

I’m not saying stop wearing your fancy special shoes but what I will say is this.

If you wear shoes that don’t bend and twist the movements in your feet will be altered and you are likely going to find stuff will ache or get sore and not just in your feet.  Next time you go and buy a new pair of shoes test if they can bend and twist as those shoes are more likely to let your feet move better and do what they are supposed to.

Final note, please please don’t decide that barefoot shoes are the way to go after reading this and ditch all your others as this could cause more problems.  More on this another time. Now go get ready for party season!  I’m off to work on my giraffe walk!