This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
I’m currently reading the book Tread Lightly*. In it, the authors mention the role the shoes you wear while not running play in your foot health and I’d like to bring this point up here because I think runners often overlook this point.
We runners are shoe geeks. At least many of us are. We can tell you all about the structural details of the shoes we have and probably even many shoes we don’t have. We think about what these mean to the health of our feet and legs. We rightfully treat the topic as a big deal.
But how much do we think about the structure of the shoes we wear during the rest of the day? We think about fashion. What looks good, what’s going to impress people, what will make us look better. How much time do we spend thinking about how these shoes will affect the health of our feet and legs? Shouldn’t we be thinking about this more?
It’s been well established that shoes with a pointed toe change the structure of our feet. Wear these shoes enough and our feet begin taking the shape of the shoes. Our toes no longer splay out as they naturally do. They get pinched in to a point usually around the second toe. Bunions are the biggest concern when this happens but we can also have issues including but hardly limited to numbness and pain caused by nerves being pinched between bones that are unnaturally positioned. It’s also not hard to imagine that, more generally, the function of our feet is compromised.
It’s also been established that shoes with raised heels give us issues. Women’s high heeled shoes are the most visible culprits but many work boots and men’s dress shoes also have raised heels. These shoes do a few things. First, they push our toes into the front of the shoes, creating many of the same issues we see in shoes with pointed toes. Add pointed toes to raised heels and you’re getting a double whammy. In addition, it’s been found that wearing shoes with raised heels over the long term shortens your calf muscles and Achilles tendons and makes the Achilles tendons more stiff. It’s not hard to see where this leads to problems with injuries in the muscles of the calf, Achilles tendon injuries, even foot problems like Plantar fasciitis.
You’re likely spending at least 8 hours a day in these shoes. Yes, our running shoes are important but we’re probably only spending around an hour a day in those shoes. The shoes you wear while not running greatly affect the health of your feet and legs if for no other reason than you’re spending a lot of time in them.
I know. I’m a guy. I don’t get the pressure placed on women to wear fashionable high heeled shoes. I also don’t work in a setting where I need to wear fancy dress shoes or work boots with raised heels. It’s easy for me to say think about the structure of the shoes you’re wearing while not running. I get it. However, consider what you can do. Can you go a little lower with the heels? Can you get shoes with more room in the toe? If you can, your feet, legs and running will thank you.
*Note: In the interest of full disclosure, the link to the book Tread Lightly is an Amazon affiliate link. If you use that link to buy the book, a small portion of the sale will help pay the bills at HillRunner.com. As always, use the link if you wish and thank you for the support.