My feet hurt! Do I need new shoes? What about orthotics?
There is no evidence of any shoes preventing injury. In a study of 4,000 runners, they found that those with newer running shoes (6 months) were 30% more likely to get injured. Shoes with more cushion cause our joints to hit the ground harder. This is caused by a delayed signal to our muscles to absorb the force of our ground. A study of gymnasts landing after a jump found that the more cushion the landing provided, the more likely they were to get injured. ‘Breaking in your shoes’ is really just wearing down the material in the shoe so that our feet are in closer contact with the ground, therefore resulting in less injuries with older shoes. Pushing against the narrative of the billion-dollar shoe companies seems like an impossible task. I can now clearly see how these companies have manipulated our health for shoe sales. It’s on you to take control of your ability to move the way our bodies were designed, pain free. I realize we can’t ditch the shoes altogether, but footwear decisions and keeping our feet strong will make all the difference in our health.
“But my feet hurt if I walk barefoot or if I walk without orthotics.”
If you are currently in pain, yes supportive shoes and orthotics can help to support the foot. But, the more you support the foot, the weaker the foot will become overtime. For those who currently experience pain in their feet, I recommend progressively increasing your time with no support to strengthen the foot. Performing balance and foot strengthening exercises will also improve your foot strength leading to less stress on the joints. Remember there is not one study on a shoe that demonstrates decreased injury.
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Foot strengthening exercises to help you get started: