The footwear chosen for both everyday use as well as exercise can have huge implications on the whole body, people are now well versed to the compensation patterns and upstream and downstream problems that occur due to injuries or the choice of our everyday position and footwear.
Those who have been around the OSR office may recognize that I more then often will be sporting five finger shoes, I field many questions about them on a daily basis so here and some basic information and pros and cons of minimalist footwear compared with a more traditional motion control shoe.
The Shoe manufacturing companies push that Cushioned motor control shoes aid the foot and body by correction of stabilization and under or over pronation issues by adapting the position in which the foot is in and connects to the floor whilst the minimalist or barefoot companies push that the shoe allows the foot to act in more of a natural contact allowing facilitation for a more natural and efficient stride and use of the foot.
Here are some simple Pros and cons for minimalist or zero drop shoes
More space in the toe box or articulated toes allowing for natural use or less restriction
Less weight on the feet
Strengthening of the feet and arch
More feedback from the connecting ground
Minimalist shoes demand strength and flexibility
Switching to quickly to running without building muscles of foot, calf, quad and core could add to injury
Can become smelly\
Pros and cons of more traditional motion control cushioned heel foot wear
Biomechanical adjustment correcting issues like over pronation or leg length discrepancies.
Cushioning for impact
Heightened heel drop
Full support stops muscles from strengthening.
There is a lot of information on the internet that can both help inform you and confuse you with arguments towards and against both styles of shoe, books like Born to Run by Chris McDougall are a good read totally pro barefoot style where Kelly Starrett’s Ready to Run more explains imbalances and pushes toward flat or a zero drop shoe whilst most running stores and podiatrists lean towards motion control to correct issues.
To Sum up
Like with issues around the whole body I have found a more multi facet approach is best especially if major imbalances such as flat feet or plantar fasciitis are what brought you into our office in Kailua or on a search of optimal footwear.
The cause and not just the symptom must be addressed.
Motion control footwear corrects alignment issues yet years of wearing these alone made no changes to pain or injuries especially in my ankle, knee and hip.
The solution I found after advice from Physical Therapists, other healthcare professionals, athletes and colleges was to slowly change form a more regular shoe to a zero heel drop to have my heel and calf in a more natural resting length, Orthotics helped in the beginning, especially in more endurance exercise and can still be added to zero drop if stability issues still occur yet this was in conjunction to gradually adding more barefoot walking and foot strengthening excises such as towel crunches and movement under resistance to strengthen the small muscles of my feet and then after feeling strong enough switching my regular footwear to all either flat or barefoot footwear and staying away from sandals/slippers as much as possible, which can be hard on the islands.
I Love my Barefoot shoes and wear Five fingers most days at work and play and highly recommend them, they are super comfortable and breathable and they make five finger socks help to stop them getting smelly, the biggest thing I love is that after years of pain and instability in my ankle that has gone and my arch is stronger and in a better position then ever.
There are some great articles out the on minimalist versus more traditional shoes.
I hope this blog sparks some interest in what footwear you could best wear and reading books like Ready to Run and seeking advice from healthcare professionals like our physical therapy staff here at OSR can assist you in enjoying many days pain free on your feet.
If you are suffering from foot pain, or don’t know what shoes may add to your pain or benefit your progress, ask our staff on your next visit into our office! Call today to schedule your consultation 488-5555!