Shoes – helpful or not?

I get a lot of questions from folks about what type of shoes they have, what they should use, what their fitness guru/doctor/shoe salesman/dog told them that they should use.  The truth is that there is a lot of information out there – too much, most of the time.

Here’s the thing to remember: most of the stuff you will hear is just advertising noise, which is not a bad thing, it’s just not in your best interests to listen.  Callous attitude?  Not at all, just what I call ‘enlightened self-interest’.

Of course everyone is going to say that their shoe is the best. What kind of marketing message would it be if they said, “Look, we know that you haven’t a clue about what shoe to buy.  We make a good shoe, but it’s built to a statistical model of a human being and has a certain set of assumptions that have gone into the design and therefore won’t fit anyone precisely.  BUT, we’re a big company with a lot of overhead, employees and stockholders that need us to turn a profit, so regardless of what YOU may actually need, BUY OUR SHOES!”

Anyone in half of their right mind wouldn’t buy jack-diddly from someone who said that, right?

Even more so, beware of the shoe company that says, “Our shoes are good for EVERYONE.” That basically says that all people are the same – which, if you look up from this post for a moment and watch the people walking down the sidewalk for more than 30 seconds, you’ll see is utter hogwash.  People are built differently, walk differently and, because life is inherently stressful, have developed different strategies for handling their ouchies, which lead to all sorts of interesting patterns.

So, looking more at that subject of ‘enlightened self-interest’, we want to learn some basic concepts and ideas about what’s going on in our bodies and what to look for in a shoe that will help us with our particular set of issues.

Over the next few entries here, I’ll do my very best to educate you about some of the dominant issues I see with people’s locomotion and how that relates to shoes.  You can also send me in some pictures of you standing (front and back, please, without shoes on) and I’ll use you as an example and talk to what I see happening with you specifically.

In the meantime, here’s one of the most important things to remember about shoes: you are not just your feet.  There is a marked tendency toward specialization in all fields, body care as well.  The problem is that is that the bio-mechanics of the body cannot be adequately isolated into compartments.  Said another way – you cannot treat just one part of the body by itself: if you do, you’re just asking for more trouble down the road.

By all means, buy good shoes that match you as well as possible – but don’t just stop there.  Exercise regularly, stretch often, eat well, get enough sleep, drink plenty of good water, etc. (you know this stuff already, I’m just reminding you).