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Your feet vs. your shoes

Are your shoes killing your feet? Read on to find out

We see advertisements for shoes everywhere - these shoes are best for running and these are the best for work, these are the most fashionable and these are the most comfortable. These you can wear with any outfit and these will make your whole outfit. But what if I told you, that the best shoes, were no shoes at all.

I mean this in two different ways, and I will take a moment to explain each here. First of all, I mean literally no shoes. Bare feet. There are so many benefits from walking around barefoot, but being a PT I will focus on the musculoskeletal ones. When we allow our feet to be bare, our toes move how they were intended and we are forced to use these small muscles in our mid foot called our intrinsics. These muscles help us keep and use the arch in our foot and maintain the overall health of our toes and foot. Since our feet are our contact point with the ground, what they do will affect every muscle and bone up the chain of our body. Our bare feet contacting the ground will allow us to make small adjustments throughout to improve our overall posture and stance. However---I understand it is not feasible for all of us, or even safe for all of us to be barefoot all day, so I will move onto my second explanation of the above statement.

All of us have differently shaped feet. And I mean that, no two people's feet have the exact same shape, strength, skin health, toenail length, flexibility, mobility, etc. So any advertisement saying these are the "best shoes" can't really be accurate. The shoes that are best for you have a lot to do with your personal foot health, shape, size, etc. What I will say, is that for all of the reasons stated above, shoes that restrict our foot's natural shape and movement have to go.

If our toes are forced into a narrow shoe, even if it is advertised to be the best shoe for this or that, they will not be able to contact the ground in the way they are made to. We will compensate with borrowing stability from the ankles, and likely end up with something like "plantar fasciitis" or "achilles tendonitis".

So am I telling you to call your boss and say, "listen, I am not going to be wearing shoes to work anymore because I read an article on the internet" - absolutely not, since many of us are working from home anyway you don't even have to let them know! But in all seriousness, the GOOD NEWS is that many shoe companies are becoming more and more aware of the need for foot shaped shoes, and adjusting their product lines accordingly.

So what should you look for when getting some new kicks? Of course since I don't know you personally, I can't say specifically but I will give you a few generalizations. First - I think everyone should look for a shoe with a WIDE TOE BOX. This means, that the area where your toes go is at least as wide as your toes are. You should be able to wiggle all ten toes while wearing shoes, crazy, right?! Second, if you have good foot and ankle health you should be looking for a no or low HEEL TOE DROP (sometimes referred to as offset). This will allow as much of your foot to contact the ground (or rather contact the sole which is contacting the ground) as possible, to allow your foot to move as naturally as it can. If your foot health is not great, look at the heel toe drop on whatever shoes are most comfortable and slowly drop from there (go one step down every time you get a new pair of shoes) and your feet with thank you.

If you need help figuring out what shoes are right for you, email me at for some help. And whenever you can, let those toes fly free.

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