Not all shoes are the same, and each shoe has different functions. This is why some types should be avoided or worn for limited periods of time.
Comfort and proper support should always be given priority when choosing the right shoe.
This is the place where we recommend and describe the best running shoes to train and race with, so it may seem strange that in this case we are telling you about shoes not to use. And in fact we are not referring to running ones but to other, equally common, perhaps all too common types. Buzzfeed spoke with several podiatrists and the result is a set of tips that we share, partly because they are from specialists and we agree with them. Let’s preface this with two things:
- These are not shoes that you should NEVER use but rather that you should wear carefully and limitedly because they may have contraindications
- Running shoes are the result of continuous experimentation and testing, and they respect the biomechanics of our body much more than other shoes, making our limbs work harmoniously and correctly, both in static conditions and, of course, in movement. Up to a point, though, and we save that for last.
So here are the footwear to avoid or to use carefully (and for as little time as possible).
1. Open-toed and very cushioned shoes, like Crocs or similar
Nothing to say about their comfort, and in fact we are talking about footwear that was born with an entirely different inspiration, and their use has been extended to any place and time by their owners. Why? Because they are so comfortable and in fact are great for wearing at home to relax the foot. The problem arises when they become the main footwear, to be used even in situations for which they are not intended, like, all the time! In and out of the house, on walks and throughout the day. This in no way detracts from their (unquestionable) comfort: it just brings emphasis to the fact that they were not born for walking or all-day use.
2. High heels
No doubt that heel shoes give a very nice shape to the leg. The problem is that they push the wearer into a posture that, if maintained for many hours and every day, has rather disabling contraindications such as hammertoes, plantar fasciitis, and even Achilles tendon inflammation. The reason is quickly explained: the shape of the foot is the outcome of millennia of evolution that has decreed that its size and function are the best response to our need to stand upright, walk and run. When you wear a shoe with a high or stiletto heel, you force your foot into an unnatural position that, among other things, makes it work by overexploiting and overloading a very small part of its sole. In other words, the weight that is normally unloaded on the entire surface of the foot, with high heels is unloaded on only a fraction of the total, overloading it. And the results, as seen, may not be pleasant.
3. Walking barefoot
As mentioned before, there is nothing wrong with walking barefoot; on the contrary. The problem, as always, is walking only barefoot. Our bodies and especially our feet are not made to walk barefoot all the time but need support, that is, a surface that supports the arch of the foot and prevents the foot from relaxing too much, flattening out.
Therefore, the solution is to alternate the pleasantness of bare feet with a shoe with some support in two ways: either with slippers intended for post-workout recovery and with conforming footbeds or by allocating a pair of shoes with support for home use. In the latter case, you can use a pair of running shoes that you never use outside or perhaps one that you just washed and don’t plan to use outside.
There are also people who should never walk barefoot, and they are diabetics. Those people have particularly sensitive nerves in their feet, and exposing them directly and without any intermediate layer to the hardness of the surfaces where they walk can create more damage than in a healthy foot. The fact that the nerves may already be compromised complicates the picture even more because the sufferer has reduced sensitivity of the sole of the foot and may realize the pain too late and after the damage has already occurred.
Finally: never walk barefoot, even for a very short time, on surfaces whose hygienic condition is unknown, such as swimming pools, gyms, saunas and hotel bathrooms, and generally in wet environments. The risk is, in this case, of encountering warts, fungus and other unpleasantness that can affect the feet.
4. Running in non-running shoes
If they are called “running shoes” there must be a reason, right? In fact, these are not ordinary shoes with brighter colors but tools for running specifically designed to support the foot and sustain it throughout workouts, cushioning and mediating impact with the ground in a way that transmits a reduced amount of energy to the skeleton and joints, and in so doing preserving them.
Obviously, “normal” shoes, even if with some kind of cushioning (often just an insole) are not suitable for this use.
5. Always use running shoes
Plot twist! What, running shoes are not always the answer? Mmm, not always. If you want a fair proportion, we propose one that is always good, like the 80/20 ratio, i.e.: use running shoes 80 percent of the time but also other kinds of shoes for the remaining 20. It could also be just one day a week when you walk and use only flat shoes, for example.
Why is that? Running shoes generally have a drop, which is a difference in height between the heel and toe. Remember what was said before about heeled shoes? That’s it: you can imagine that running shoes have a small heel of a few millimeters (12 millimeters at most) that, as much as it helps with the roll during running, the rest of the time you wear it tends to unload the Achilles tendon, keeping it shorter by just a measure equal to the size of the drop. This is why you must also use zero-drop shoes (loafers, to have a term of reference): because they make the Achilles tendon “relax,” allowing it to strides.