We only have one pair of feet, and we should take good care of them because they allow us to be mobile and to go about our day. Are shoes good for our feet? As PA students, we have to wear uniform shoes, and most of us use the same exact pair everyday. Shoes are not necessarily good for our feet, our bodies have been made to carry us efficiently, and shoes are not required in order for us to walk. However, we have to wear shoes because of cultural assimilation. Some products to getting around that pesky “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policy are named and explained below.
Studies show that running with unsupportive shoes makes you run on the balls of your feet, which helps your feet absorb most of the impact of your stride. Try walking barefoot, heel-to-toe while plugging your ears. You will be able to hear the thump of the impact on your body. Now walk barefoot on the balls of your feet while still plugging your ears. You will hear that there is less of an impact on your body. In this YouTube video you can see the difference of landing on your heel versus the balls of your feet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnwIKZhrdt
By walking on the front of your foot, you reduce the jolt to your joints. Consistently walking barefoot or with minimally supportive shoes, your walk should start to change over a long period of time. Instead of walking heel-toe, the balls of your feet will be primarily used for walking. This leads to less impact on your body. Charlize Pedregosa ’20 doesn’t want to wear uniform shoes anymore, saying “I wish I could go barefoot.” By walking barefoot, your walk can change, which is better for your joints.
Nakefit has produced a more safe and effective way of running barefoot. Nakefit has a sticker for your foot that protects your feet from hot surfaces, rocks, and other dangers. On Nakefit’s website, they state their purpose: “We invented Nakefit to keep your feet effectively protected and at the same time support all of the amazing things it can already do.” Your feet have been accustomed to shoes, but shoes are supposed to offer protection from the elements, not instigate injury.
The Tarahumara Indians of Northern Mexico are very efficient runners that live in the mountains. They can run an average of four-hundred miles non-stop! They run barefoot, or wear sandals called huaraches to protect their feet from any cuts or injuries resulting from the terrain, but they are very minimal and offer no additional support. The Tarahumara Indians think of running as an art. Running is an important factor in their culture, which means they know the ins-and-outs of appropriate footwear. This man’s story of wearing traditional running huaraches shows his support for the shoes. huaraches
Huaraches are a great way of getting around the “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policy. They are shoes, but let your feet do their job without interfering. Huaraches however, are not practical in the winter. A company called Xero Shoes makes minimalist shoes that are far more practical, and even though they look like normal shoes, they let your feet work naturally inside the shoes.
Often times running shoes are over-supportive, they over-compensate for the foot’s ability to work on its own. Some running shoes remove the need to use certain muscles in your legs because your legs become accustomed to the support the shoe offers. That’s where the real danger comes in; once the shoes are taken off, injuries are imminent. The support the legs once relied on has been taken away, and the unused muscles strain, having to work harder to keep up.
Just as feet can become accustomed to a supportive running shoe, the daily uniform shoe can also become a problem. Certain shoes may only work some muscles, while another pair could work others. This is important to keep in mind as you pick your shoes to wear for the day. Switching shoes every other day helps your legs use different muscles, giving some a break and others a chance to function, and also provides a break for your shoes.
Your feet should be taken care of, whether it’s walking eight hours in uniform shoes or running on the treadmill. You only get one pair for your entire life-make them count.