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Footwear and Causes of Chronic Pain

Our feet have sensors that help tell our brain what muscles are needed to keep us from falling over. When a shoe tips our foot to the outside edge, squeezes our toes, gives us spongy ‘air-cushioned’ soles, etc., muscles throughout the body get false information. They tighten up in certain ways to cope with the message the brain is receiving – and stay ‘turned-on’. They are working overtime’ just to maintain your posture against gravity in those shoes.

Meanwhile, you are doing activities that also require other muscle actions! The result can be aches and pains in the legs, back, shoulders or neck – or somewhere else – because some of those muscles are not getting the intervals of ‘rest’ that they need.

A pair of shoes that is well designed and the right ‘fit’ for your feet, lets your body do all it’s moving from a neutral resting point. Your body mechanics are designed to keep you upright with a minimum of effort. A ‘neutral’ position means that your postural muscles have a lighter work-load, and they are sharing it equally. You have more energy and are less fatigued – you just feel better all over.

Ideally, as close to naturally barefoot as possible. Since that is not always possible, here are some things to keep in mind:

Your toes need room to wiggle.

A level outer sole is the best – forget the fancy ridges.

Tennis ‘court’ or ‘skate’-boarding style shoes are usually good

Flip Flop type shoes are bad.

Unfortunately, footwear that only has a light “thong” between your 1st and 2nd toes depends on the “clenching” action of your foot and toes with every step to keep it on. It is unconscious, but constant, and it tightens muscles from your toes and the arch of your foot to the top of your head — so if your feet, legs, hips, back, neck or head are aching – take another look at your footwear.

High ‘arch supports’ cause more problems than they help.

The more ‘spongy’, air or gel-filled the sole, the more stress on your ankles – and on all the other joints and muscles that are maintaining your stability

Big name brands are not necessarily the best.

Expensive is not necessarily better, either.

Doctor Hancock or Flo can evaluate your shoes and give you other footwear tips!