Joint health, our ability to walk upright, and even the optimization of sports performance – to name just a few examples – depend on our feet. However, a large part of the population continues to ignore the care that must be taken with them and their needs.
Thanks to the 26 bones, 33 joints, and 107 ligaments that make up the feet, it is possible to move from one place to another, ensure the necessary stability, and support weight.
But mistreating this very fundamental part of the body can cause knee pain, meniscus problems, hip and spinal problems (back pain, sciatica, and vertebral discopathy, among others). Therefore, it is important to convey to the population “the need to choose the appropriate footwear”.
It is certainly not the same thing to wear one shoe or another, to choose a certain color because it is fashionable or we are told that it is better. Most of the problems and injuries that come to the doctor’s office are due to the fact that the patient doesn’t really know what kind of foot and step he or she has. Wearing an inadequate shoe can increase the risk of acquired foot deformities, poor support, and injuries in sports and daily life.
How does each type of shoe affect our feet?
Sandals and flip-flops
They often cause injuries such as plantar fasciitis, heel and pubis pain, Achilles tendonitis, and calluses on the big toe, mainly due to lack of grip, since they cannot maintain the stability and cushioning required to step correctly.
Contrary to what certain false myths spread, this type is not the most appropriate. Having two or three centimeters of heel is healthier because it allows convenient distribution of pressure between the heel and the forefoot, or metatarsal region. The cushioning of the shoe should be padded to avoid friction on the heel.
The ideal, probably, would be to use boots or boots like, for example, those normally used for horseback riding, whenever the weather allows, as their design meets the necessary stability, grip, cushioning, and heel height requirements.
Shoes with heel
Why don’t the famous leaning towers of Pisa, Bologna and Archangel fall despite their inclination? Because the verticality of their centers of gravity does not exceed the limits of their bases. A standing person does not fall as long as the verticality of his center of gravity lies within the surface bounded by the outer edges of the soles of his feet.
This is why it is so difficult to stand on one foot, and even more difficult to balance on, for example, a wire, since under these conditions the base is very small and the verticality of the center of gravity can easily exceed its limits. The reflection made by Yakov Perelman in his book Physics for Entertainment helps to understand the importance of choosing an appropriate heel.
The problem with this type of shoe, beloved by women, is the distribution of weight between the forefoot and hindfoot according to height. With zero centimeters of heel, the rearfoot bears 57% of the weight and the forefoot 43%, while with two centimeters of heel, the rearfoot bears 50% of the weight and the forefoot the other 50%.
If we add centimeters, when we reach the height of four centimeters, the percentages are 43% and 57%, respectively. In fact, “shoes between eight and 12 centimeters should be absolutely contraindicated because of the body damage they facilitate,” said Ángel de la Rubia, president of the Spanish Association of Sports Podiatry. In the UK, “the women’s union won a case against companies that forced their employees to wear shoes with heels,” he pointed out.
They are the ideal type of shoe because of their cushioning and stability characteristics. The sports shoe industry has experienced a real revolution in the last few years with the incorporation of new materials that make athletes suffer fewer injuries. These advances are also benefiting amateur and even weekend athletes.
There is a specific shoe for each sport, each type of foot, weight, and terrain, but what gives the shoe, in general, and the athlete, in particular, a unique characteristic is the incorporation of the customized insole, which allows for the correction of the footstep. It is fundamental to find a suitable shoe for the different sporting specialties, as this results in an optimization of the activity result and prevents injuries.
Lateral instability is an intrinsic property of the feet to be able to adapt to the different irregularities of the natural terrain, not the hard and smooth man-made terrain. Therefore, the shoe should stabilize the lower extremity laterally, to balance the different joints and thus avoid such frequent problems as ankle sprains.
In the last decade, the fashion world has been impregnated by this type of sapatos masculinos that is halfway between the usual classic and the sporty one. It is, without a doubt, a suitable option for everyday use, since it allows you to go to work well dressed and without the fuss that wearing sneakers could provoke in an office by disrespecting an unwritten but assumed standard of elegance in Spain and in much of Europe.