Do you know if your shoe or slipper is boosting or degrading your health? Sounds strange? Well, indeed the quality of your footwear affects your health and well being.

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Footwear is an essential garment worn on your feet, made of leather, plastic or rubber, used to protect your feet from getting injured, rough and dirty. In recent times, various slipper, sandal and shoe designs have been developed, restructuring the fashion aspect of footwear.

Whether your workout involves running, walking, sports or gym equipment, a decent sport shoe is a must. Injury caused by inappropriate shoes can needlessly derail your fitness or weight loss attempt. Investing in a quality shoe can help you to prevent foot and ankle damage, and make your workout a more pleasant and comfortable experience.

As we all know, it is never wise to compromise on your health in the name of fashion. But there definitely is a way to achieve both, selecting the appropriate designs and brands.

Harmful side effects that bad footwear has on health:

In our daily lives, we tend to wear shoes, which have a higher heel than toe level. These shoes can be damaging not only to the spinal chord but also to your leg muscles. Extra cushioned sports shoes also have this problem. The cushioning present is higher towards the heel and this causes athletes and other users to strike their foot harder against the ground, heel first. Naturally, as all our body parts are connected this sends an un-natural and very high external force up to the leg muscles via the heel causing immense pain beyond a certain point. Some sport shoes are also cushioned near the leg arch. This reduces the direct contact of your foot with the ground, which may have certain benefits, but indeed drawbacks too.

A lot of health issues like back pain also start at the feet. Your favorite pair of high heels might just be the reason behind your deteriorating back condition. When your feet are mechanically unstable it sets off the rest of your body alignment as well, this imbalance causes excess stress, strain, wear and tear on your lower body, especially lower back.

The latest trend now dates back to a concept followed in the ancient time. People have begun realizing the benefits of walking, running and training barefoot. Going barefoot or wearing shoes that allow barefoot movement actually strengthen the muscles of the feet and legs by requiring balance and stabilizing movement. This also reduces injury risk if done regularly and carefully. Switching to normal alternatives, like walking has helped alleviate knee and ankle problems in many people. Removing the heel lift of most shoes helps the Achilles tendon and calf muscle stretch and lengthen and may reduce injuries, such as calf pulls or Achilles tendinitis caused by short, tight tissues.

Improper workout footwear can cause a number of injuries. Besides the more obvious injuries, including ankle strains and fractures, bunions and corns, some other lesser-known injuries are common. Metatarsalgia, a condition that presents as pain in the ball of the foot, can be worsened by poorly fitting footwear.

Choosing a proper shoe can help to protect you against common injuries associated with your type of workout. Good shoes can lessen the impact of your step and cushion the foot from heavy landings. In addition, sport or exercise specific shoes can improve your performance, enabling, for example, quick direction changes.

Our bodies are made up of about 60 percent water, which is great for conducting electricity. The earth has a negative ionic charge. Going barefoot grounds our bodies to that charge. Negative Ions have been proven to detoxify, calm, reduce inflammation, and synchronize your internal clocks, hormonal cycles and physiological rhythms. The best places to get some negative ions through your feet are by the water.

But walking barefoot is socially unacceptable in today’s modern and sophisticated society. Thankfully, there are some great barefoot and minimalist shoe options available, and even some that allow grounding.

Minimalist shoes are one modified option, which is worth trying. These shoes are designed to promote the foot striking the ground with the front or middle of the foot rather than the heel. This will help prevent excess force and shock running up the leg muscle through the heel. Another option available is shoes inserts or shoe soles. There are some new designs, which help enhance the walking experience while providing extra support. This is advisable for fashion conscious people who do not want to use options like minimalistic shoes that are not very trendy. Insoles or shoe inserts are also advisable for middle-aged people who suffer from knee problems. Prescription orthotics is another kind of specialized shoe. Also called functional orthotics is usually made from plastic or graphite and can treat issues caused by abnormal motion. This kind of modified shoe is advised to hikers and people who enjoy trekking. Normal shoes on rough terrain otherwise cause jerky and non-uniform movement which causes extensive damage to the knees and ankles. Functional orthotics prevents such damage to the body.

Shoe Fit

The best-designed shoes in the world will not do their job if they do not fit properly. You can avoid foot problems by finding a shoe store that employs a pedorthist or professional shoe fitter who knows about the different shapes and styles of shoes. Or you can become an informed consumer by following these guidelines:

  • Don’t go just by size. Have your feet measured.
  • Visit the shoe store at the end of a workout when your feet are largest.
  • Wear the socks you normally wear when working out.
  • Fit the shoe to the largest foot.
  • Make sure the shoe provides at least one thumb’s breadth of space from the longest toe to the end of the toe box.
  • If you have bunions or hammertoes, find a shoe with a wide toe box. You should be able to fully extend your toes when you’re standing, and shoes should be comfortable from the moment you put them on. They will not stretch out.
  • Women who have big or wide feet should consider buying men or boys’ shoes, which are cut wider for the same length.

Stores which sell good footwear can be found on the QuickSearch website.

Written by Taarini Chandramouli

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