In her book Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet Biomechanist Katy Bowman breaks the great news… many foot problems are a result of disuse. Great news? Yes, because it means we have an opportunity to positively impact our foot-ure by making smarter choices and moving differently today. Consider this... if bunions "run" in your family, don't blame grandma. Maybe part of the problem is in your closet, not your DNA.
Toe pick a healthier shoe, Katy recommends a no-drama five-factor evaluation. Once shod, you want to answer "Yes" to as many of these questions as possible.
- Heel: Can I maintain a truly vertical alignment with my weight over my heels?
- Toe box height: Does the front of the shoe rest on the ground, keeping my toes out of extension?
- Toe box width: Can I spread my toes comfortably?
- Upper: Does the shoe stay on my foot without my toes having to grip it?
- Sole: Does the sole allow the natural movement of my foot, not just my ankle to move?
In summary, the healthiest footwear fits the following cri-toe-ria:
- Flat heel
- Flat toe box
- Wide toe box
- Well-attached upper
- Thin and flexible sole
Katy maintains a running list of her favorite minimal shoes here, making it super easy for us to choose wisely in the shoe department. I really like my Vivobarefoot shoes and I just purchased a pair of Camper winter boots because IT WON'T STOP SNOWING IN NYC.
Remember "the right shoe" is only part of the equation. Movement is also medicine. In her book, Katy offers easy exercises (stretches, massages, posture pointers) to help you fix your feet. As Katy says, "The state of your feet right now is simply a reflection of everything you have done up until this moment. Human tissues are dynamic and adapt to the forces that are placed on them. When these forces change, the tissues change to reflect the different habit. This is true whether it's a good habit or a bad one!"
Photo by Vivobarefoot