17 Jul Footwear: Fashion versus Function
When it comes to footwear, our podiatrist Andrew Saunderson has this to say, “Treat fashionable shoes like chocolate and functional footwear like a regular healthy meal.”
If you’re wondering what this means, read on. As podiatrists we want the best for your feet and lower limbs. Footwear can be a significant causative factor for your pain and discomfort with your feet. Shoes that are too narrow or short around your forefoot are bound to increase your chances of foot problems. All too often, we try to squeeze our forefoot – the widest part of our foot – into the narrowest part of the shoe (the toe box) just because these shoes look trendy. No, I’m not trying to convince you to wear clogs, finger-toe shoes, or old-fashioned shoes that your grandparents wear (no offence to people who enjoy these shoe styles). I’m here to suggest a viable solution – without having to give up fashion forever.
What are Functional Shoes?
Generally, any shoe that is wide/ wider through the forefoot or at the toes. These shoes fit the natural shape of your foot. These shoes mimic the ‘fan-shape’ of a healthy foot. The weight–bearing area of the sole should be flat to the floor to provide maximum surface area.They can’t be folded up and put in your pocket. They are designed to give your toes freedom to move and flex.
What are Fashion Shoes?
Fashion shoes, on the other hand, tend to be narrower through the forefoot or at the toes. They are narrow, have high heels, unstable and/or floppy. What’s more, they come with a high price tag! They may look good but can be a significant cause or trigger for your sore feet and lower limb aches and pains. Long-term use can cause changes in foot structure like bunions, claw toes, muscular tightness and irritation of tendons, nerves and fascia. If you wear these kinds of shoes, you may experience numbness, tingling, burning or sharp, shooting pains or a dull pain in your feet, ankles and lower limbs. Still not convinced? Answer this question: do you long to take off these shoes the minute you get home? If these shoes were comfortable, you’d have no problem keeping them on forever, right?
What’s the solution?
Treat fashion shoes like chocolate. It’s a “sometimes” food; enjoy them in moderation. Don’t wear them all day, every day. Try commuting to the office or to a party in functional footwear. Think of fashion shoes as something you would wear at while you’re with clients, in meetings or when you need to make an impression. When your back at your desk or commuting, switch to something more comfortable that isn’t narrow/ or too small for your foot. It’s time to be smarter about your footwear choices.
Podiatrists are getting more involved in the footwear scene and we have designed some styles that are just as fashionable or suit the ‘status quo’, but with an added benefit of functionality. You might not even notice the difference, at first glance. Buy shoes that are that are wider around the forefoot/toe area with more support and your feet will thank you for them.
For advice on what shoes are best for your feet, see one of our podiatrists at footinjuryclinic.