How wearing the incorrect shoes may impact your health
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The shoes you wear can impact your overall health. Not only do bad shoes affect the health of your feet, they can also contribute to the health of your legs, knees, hips, back, and neck.
Wearing the wrong footwear can increase your risk of developing foot and ankle conditions and injuries, which include corns, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.
Wearing the right shoes can prevent most podiatric issues, including long-term damage to the foot and ankle, that may require extensive treatment and surgery to correct later on.
With sunny days ahead and summer trendy looks waiting to leave the shelves, it’s important to consider how some of the trendy shoes may impact your feet and your overall health.
Many common foot ailments are related to choice of shoes, especially in women. In a survey by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Association (AOFAS), more than three quarters of women had some kind of foot pain. That's no surprise when you consider that the majority of them were wearing shoes that were smaller than their feet! Footwear that is too tight, too loose, airtight, or shaped in unnatural ways, can cause or aggravate problems.
Dipuo Sehabane, footwear, accessories and children’s wear designer at TFG, says when it comes to shoes: “Comfort goes hand-in-hand with confidence. Choosing shoes that you feel safe to wear and attending to your daily priorities should be top of mind,” she said.
“This will help avoid unnecessary pain and injuries, resulting from choosing and wearing the incorrect footwear. Comfort doesn’t equate to drab, it's critical to know what your day will demand from you, in order to choose the correct shoe to fit the occasion,” added Sehabane.
Many people equate footwear with protection for your feet, which is one of the main functions of shoes, but there is much more that you should be looking for in your footwear. Wearing the wrong shoes can do more than make you look unfashionable, they can be a detriment to your overall health and wellness.
“I think most of us have found ourselves in a situation where we wore the wrong shoe for the occasion and have to deal with the unbearable excruciating pain that results from that. Luckily, for most of us, the mind makes a note not to forget – to prevent us from making the same deceiving decision again in the near future. When you can’t wait to get your desk, car, or a private corner, to reprieve your feet from the day’s bad shoe choice, you learn to make the right choices that will, in turn, help you make better future choices to avoid any negative long-term effects resulting from bad shoe choices. The key is knowing what your day requires from you, choosing the right shoe or shoes when required, to get you comfortably through the day-to-day demands.
“Wearing shoes that don’t support your feet and don’t fit correctly can cause foot pain, and even nail issues. Over the long-term, wearing the wrong shoes can cause back pain and posture issues. Shoes play an important role in the alignment of your body and so, in addition to back pain, shoes that are not right for you can also cause joint pains in your knees and ankles. If you wear shoes that don’t offer proper support, you can also develop collapsed arches,” said Sehabane.
While it may not be a priority for some people to choose comfort over style, there is a link between your feet and a healthy body. With every step and stride you take, your arch absorbs the impact your body is thrusting on your feet.
Experts say feet support your entire body, some refer to them as a root system that helps gravity anchor you to the ground, while maintaining your posture and balance, and helping to enable automating mobility.
What should be remembered or considered before buying shoes? Birkenstock’s spokesperson says these are the important questions you should ask yourself: “Does this shoe fit correctly? Is my weight evenly distributed? Does this shoe support and stabilise my foot as I walk? Is my foot protected? Can I extend my toes naturally as I walk? Does the shoe provide insulation from heat, cold and moisture?”
One of the key elements to look for in supportive shoes is proper arch support. The benefits of arch support impact your daily routine and foot health. Because of this, arch support is one of our most important features to look for in footwear, to make sure your type of shoe benefits your feet.
Choosing the right shoes can help avoid injury.
These may be the indicators of incorrect shoes:
Nail Problems: Ill-fitting shoes can actually cause you to develop nail and fungal problems as a result. If your shoes are placing pressure on the sides of your toes, it can actually push your skin into your nail plate, which can cause you to develop an ingrown toenail.
Athlete’s Foot: Athlete’s foot is a common condition that is caused by a dermatophyte, which is a fungal species that lives on the skin. It can be caused by tight shoes and force the toes into close proximity with each other. Consequences of athlete’s foot can include inflammation, flaking of the skin, and intense itching.
Corns: Corns are dead, hard skin that can develop over a bony prominence, such as on the side of your feet or toes. Corns are often caused by prolonged pressure being exerted on a specific area.
Foot fungus results from not wearing shoes, or allowing sweat and moisture to fester in your shoes.
If you have started experiencing some of the above, you may need to get in touch with a health professional.
The right footwear can help keep your feet healthy, make your physical activity easier, and help keep your body safe from injury. You will be more comfortable being active if you choose a shoe that fits you well, and one that supports your body.
This article first appeared in Sunday Insider, Sep 26, 2021