I’m no shoe salesman, but I get asked about shoes a lot.
I talk with many people that have foot pain from improper footwear, mostly because of lack of knowledge of their options.
Some of the most popular brands of athletic shoe are often designed with extra material everywhere, especially the heel, which creates a shift in the mechanics of the foot/ankle, and a shortening of connective tissue up the whole calf, sometimes affecting the knee, the foot, or even the back and hips.
The best pair of shoes I’ve ever owned are “minimalist road shoes”. After wearing them for long walks, standing on my feet all day, and any kind of fitness workout I throw at myself – they perform better than any other shoe I’ve worn, ever.
My feet never feel achy or unsupported while wearing these shoes. Why is that? Minimal material and padding allows the foot to move and function and contour with the surfaces we step on. This gives you better sensitivity and adaptive benefits for movement (including fitness).
If this feels like a complete 180 from traditional schools of thought, it is. The idea has been that we ‘need’ lots of cushion and ‘support’ around our ankle, heel, and the famous arch. These seem like well thought-out ideas in theory, but reality has shown us that giving us all these supports acts as a crutch for our tissues and joints, encouraging them to atrophy, weaken, and become further dependent on the crutch.
Don’t take my word for it – give it a try. But be warned: it takes time for feet to adapt from traditional sneakers to minimalist shoes, and should be done gradually in small increments of time. That is: don’t run a marathon in ‘em after switching from jogging shoes. Try 15 minutes to an hour at a time, and gradually increase your time each day.