It’s that time of year when ladies love to pull out the cute strappy sandals and flip flops of spring and summer and flaunt lacquered toes and beautifully sculpted calves.
At the end of a long day of work, running errands or having fun with friends, our feet can be downright painful, a symptom NOT to be ignored. Prevention Magazine recently conducted a study to see exactly what our favorite fashionable shoes did to our posture, muscles and joints. Here is what they found.
Did you ever realize that the way we keep flip-flops on our feet is by gripping our toes? This constant gripping keeps arches from flexing normally and sets off a chain of events requiring more work for your hips and knees and less for the back of your legs and butt where the action should be! The end result is a shortening of your stride that can fatigue your lower body.
There are alternatives that can look deceptively similar! Look for something with support and a structured arch. Podiatrists often recommend Chaco, Reef, Orthaheel and Dansko for supportive yet fashionable footwear.
We all love the way heels give our legs a lovely, sexy and elongated look but you won’t love what they can do to your body like increasing your risk of osteoarthritis six fold! In order to compensate for the tipped forward position heels put you in, it’s natural to bend your knees and arch your back. Not only does this tighten the quads, but the bent knee position puts 200% more stress on your kneecaps which can wear away cartilage and inflame existing arthritis. Add shin splints and shortened calf muscles (13% shorter than non-heel wearers!) and wearing heel doesn’t feel quite so pretty.
If you just have to wear those Jimmy Choos, then make sure to stretch out your calves and rub down those shins before and after wearing. You can also pretend you live in city -City-dwelling women often grab a low-heeled commuter shoe, saving the high heels for short stints. If your fashion sense can tolerate it, choosing a 2-inch heel over a 3-inch which will reduce stress by 29%.
Ballet Flats and Canvas Casuals
Unfortunately flats can be as problematic as other shoes if you fail to choose a supportive variety. Most flats lack arch support and without it, ligaments and tendons along the bottom of your foot can overstretch and collapse leading to plantar fasciitis. Additionally, choosing a shoe with less interior padding can trigger pain in the heel or ball of your foot, especially if you have high arches.
If you just have to have those cute jute espadrilles make sure that you exercise your feet by doing toe lifts—yes, really. Lift just your big toe and this will work the muscles that support your arches. Do 20 toe lifts on each foot! Another great answer is to buy insoles or over the counter orthotics for your shoes. When you’re shopping for flats, look for a supportive pair that only bends easily at the ball of the foot. If the shoe bends in the middle or rolls up easily, put it back on the shelf and keep looking. There are plenty of great fashionable foot friendly shoes out there.
Rocker soles were marketed as a great work out for your legs and butt. Unfortunately the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website is full of complaints about injuries from tendinitis to broken bones. Instead, hit the gym for your leg and butt workout and buy a great pair of well fitting and supportive athletic shoes.
In Health’s advice? Your shoes are an investment in your health, not just in your fashion quotient. Instead of buying three pairs of fun and fashionable shoes, buy one pair that is comfortable, cute and foot-friendly; the kind that you’ll look forward to wearing. Your feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, butt, hips and back will thank you!