Thanks to successful marketing campaigns from the shoe industry, consumers have learned to believe and trust certain claims made about how different shoes or products affect the feet.
We hear about shoes that help add or remove arch support, cushion our landing, or fix our gait.
The truth is, our feet are already designed to do everything we need them to do, without the need to “correct” any foot problems. In reality, traditional footwear is actually causing a lot of the problems we see in our feet!
Below, we outline some common footwear myths and explain the actual root of the problem.
Myth #1 Our Feet Need Cushioning
The idea that our feet require cushioning to absorb the impact from activities like running and hiking seems like it should make sense. What our feet actually need, however, is support.
Think about sleeping on a soft, pillowy mattress compared to a firm one. The soft mattress might feel nice initially, but your body likely won’t be so happy in the morning. A firm mattress, on the other hand, provides support to maintain good posture throughout the night.
Cushioned soles not only fail to provide ample support, but they also impede proper foot placement on landings because our feet cannot properly absorb the impact.
More cushioning reduces the foot’s ability to feel the ground below, which means that it cannot react accordingly to various surfaces. What this means is that our feet are not building the necessary muscles to support the joints and ligaments with each step, which can lead to aliments in our feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back.
Myth #2 You Need Specific Shoes to Correct Your Gait
If you’ve ever gone to the running store to try on shoes, you’ve probably had a gait analysis done. This is when the store clerk watches your running gait and then suggests shoes that correct your form.
The three categories of running gaits include:
- Overpronation or low arch
- Flat footed or normal arch
- Oversupination or high arch
The truth is that it’s not so simple as placing everyone into just three categories. Everyone’s specific running form and needs vary greatly, so there is much more that goes into correcting gait than shoes alone.
A better way to correct gait is through strength training and mobility exercises. Naturally, at Lems, we also believe that running in a natural, foot-shaped shoe will allow the toes to splay fully, improve balance, and provide ample support to the muscles, joints, and ligaments on impact.
Myth #3 The only way to correct foot problems is through surgery
Switching to minimalist shoes is a great first step. We’ve already discussed how traditional footwear can lead to foot problems and why minimalist shoes can set you on the path toward correction.
For those with more serious conditions, building foot strength is a great way to regain mobility in damaged feet. Wearing Correct Toes regularly is another tool that can help reshape damage caused by traditional footwear.
Myth #4 Orthotics Correct Foot Problems
A typical prescription for foot ailments like plantar fasciitis and shin splints and those with flat feet are orthotics. The shape of the foot, however, is not the problem. The true problem is the shape of the foot inside of the shoe.
Because traditional footwear tapers in the toe box, rises at the toes, lifts the heel and alters the arch, the muscles in the foot don’t need to work as hard and weaken, resulting in less stability in the foot.
Wearing shoes that allow the foot to operate in its natural position allow the muscles to rebuild and provide stability.
Myth #5 High Top Shoes Provide Better Ankle Support
Rolling an ankle is a common fear among trail runners and hikers, and the assumption is that high top shoes will help prevent a sprain on the trail.
While the higher profile may serve to convince the brain that the ankle has added support, what actually helps stabilize an ankle is strength and mobility. For those susceptible to rolling their ankles, regular strength exercises will provide the necessary support.