Your feet are important, more important than you think. They are your main point of contact with the world and therefore by association your shoes are pretty important as well. Your feet transfer force to the ground when you move, whether it is walking, running, stepping, punching or lifting. Do you train your feet like you train the rest of your body? Do you give it any emphasis at all? Do you put your feet in the best environment to be healthy and to perform and by environment I mean the shoes you wear. Do you have good shoes that promote healthy functioning of your feet or do you have foot prisons? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about aesthetics and comfort when it comes to shoes. They can give your feet the freedom they need to function properly and allow all the muscles to function properly or they can be casts, that limit your ability to move. This is the start of looking into foot health, strength and function. There are a few elements to cover.
Here’s what we’re looking at:
· What are the key parts of good shoes?
· What are healthy feet and ankles and how do we train them
· Shoe reviews and ideas
Let’s start with shoes.
We all wear shoes and the reality is if you have bad shoes they limit the strength, development and how you use your feet. What makes up a good shoe?
A wide toe box
This is the most important, if a shoe is too narrow it limits the ability of your toes to move and therefore the muscles of your feet to work. Your toes need to spread and contract and be able to flex. If the toe box of your shoe is too narrow this is limited.
This is the angle of drop from the heel of your shoe to the toe. This is important to ankle mobility and normal foot positioning. A normal foot position is one with Zero drop from the heel to the toe, but most people can’t handle this. Most people have lost ankle range of motion and don’t have the foot strength to function in zero drop shoes. You find shoes that range from 14mm heel to toe drop to zero drop. Most people need to progress from where they are now. To a lower drop. For many zero drop isn’t the answer, or the immediate answer.
Your foot is a shock absorber. Think about it when you jump and land, you land on the balls of your feet to absorb the force. That is how coaches coach people to land. So why when we run do we land on our heel? It doesn’t make sense. So instead of fixing mechanics and moving better we add more cushioning to the shoes to make heel striking “safer”. Is normal and we should run around with jumping castles under our feet? I’m not saying cushioning in a shoe’s sole is a bad thing, but it has become excessive in a lot of cases and it is not as necessary as people think. We need to train our feet to function properly and slowly transition towards more minimalist footwear. Footwear that enhances our capabilities and not limit them.
Those are the 3 main things to look at when we think about shoes. In the next instalment we will look at the foot itself and how to get it stronger and more mobile. After that we will give some insight into shoes and our choices of shoes and how we rate them.