Considering we use them daily, we sure don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our feet – and more importantly, about what we are doing to them. A lot of people take their feet for granted, but it’s pretty easy to completely ruin them. Most people in the western world actually contribute to the destruction of their feet on a daily basis, often without realising it.
Whenever I walk outside without wearing my shoes, the grownups have something to say about it. What if you walk in a poo? (Oh no! If only there was this thing called water. Oh, and soap! Can someone please invent soap?) Are you going to clean the house? (How about I just clean my feet instead?) It’s just gross! (Yeah.)
The thing is, I don’t like wearing shoes. Sure some of them look pretty cool, and looking pretty cool is… er… cool… so it’s not that. I just really don’t like what they do to my feet. To be more specific: I don’t like what they do to those ten weird squiggly things attached to my feet. When you look at a newborn’s feet, you’ll notice that the toes are the widest part. They are spread apart, extended. Now look at your own feet. Ah. Years of wearing high heels and pointy shoes will have an effect on what your feet look like. Unfortunately, even our most comfy shoes often squish our toes together ever so slightly. It may not seem like a big deal since we don’t really notice it, but 10 or 20 years of pushing your toes together will eventually affect the shape of your toes and feet.
Toes pointing in the wrong direction may not seem like the end of the world, but there’s more to it. More women than men develop bunions, suggesting that it is linked to footwear. (It may not cause it – bunions tend to run in families – but it will speed up the progress and make it worse.) It’s not surprising if you really think about it. When wearing high heels, we distribute our weight in a different (unnatural) way, putting more pressure on certain bones. The body simply tries to compensate. Those pointy shoes aren’t helping either.
Don’t worry, I’m not starting an anti-shoe campaign. Grownups will shout at me if I do, and even more grownups will shout at you if you choose to participate and pitch up at work or at school barefoot. Quite a few foot problems are caused and/or made worse by (ill fitting) footwear, but in a lot of cases other elements (genetics, obesity, arthritis, trauma,…) are involved.
So, what can we do to help our feet?
Wearing more appropriate footwear – wider shoes and no more high heels – will definitely work. Your feet will thank you, your sense of fashion probably not so much. Luckily there are a few other things you can try before throwing out the shoes. Toe stretchers can help soothe your feet after a long day of wearing those uncomfortable but oh-so-stunning shoes. Not only are they great at preventing deformities, they also feel pretty good. YogaToes are my personal favourite.