Written By: Paul Langer, DPM — Superfeet Wellness Panel Member. Paul Langer is a sports medicine podiatrist who treats athletes of all abilities at Twin Cities Orthopedics in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of Great Feet For Life and lectures internationally on the topics of lower extremity health and footwear.
The feet are our most under-appreciated appendage. We ask a lot of our feet, and often take it for granted that they carry us, pain-free, through thousands of steps each day while sometimes crammed into shoes that were designed to look good, not feel good.
Our feet withstand an average of 5,000-10,000 steps each day. They are subjected to 1 to 1.5 times our body weight with each step while walking, up to 2.5 to 3 times our body weight while running and 5 to 7 times our body weight while jumping.
While that may sound like a lot of load to bear, our feet are perfectly capable of supporting us, as long as we take care of them.
What We Wear On Our Feet Matters
There are social and psychological aspects of footwear that can’t be denied. While shoes protect us from the environment, they also play a big role in how we express ourselves. However, for those who are highly active and/or vulnerable to foot pain or injury, it is important to prioritize the health aspects of footwear over the fashion aspects.
In clinic, I advise my patients to use appropriate footwear for the given conditions. I understand that many of us are required to wear professional-looking shoes for work that are not likely as comfortable as our casual or athletic shoes. But, when we have a choice in what to wear, we should wear what is most comfortable and suitable for the conditions.
I often tell my patients who have foot pain that if they spend 80-90% of their time in shoes that are comfortable, they should be able to get way with wearing less comfortable fashionable shoes when they have to.
Comfort Matters, Even in Recovery
With an increased awareness on health and wellness topics, many people are learning that recovery is just as important as training when it comes to fitness. And with that, the idea of using comfortable, supportive footwear as a key ingredient for proper recovery has started to gain traction.
Thus, the introduction of a whole new category of footwear: Recovery Footwear.
Recovery Footwear refers to shoes or sandals that are intended to provide comfort and ease, allowing the wearer to recover properly from their activities, whether that’s a workout, a competition, a long day on their feet or even an injury. Recovery Footwear can also refer to conventional shoes that have a supportive insole inside.
Recovery Footwear typically combines cushioning, support and a relaxed fit to allow the feet to spread out, breathe and decompress from the impact of the preceding activity. Most people can immediately feel the benefit of well-fit recovery footwear. The support reduces stresses on overloaded muscles and joints and the cushioning absorbs the impact of each step. Feet can swell after a long day and/or workout, so the roomier fit of Recovery Footwear provides comfort benefits as well.
The primary benefit of Recovery Footwear is comfort. There is some fascinating research that shows we move more efficiently, are less likely to fall, perform better, fatigue less quickly and even have smoother brain wave activity when we wear comfortable footwear. Recovery Footwear can serve as one more tool to help us live active, healthy lifestyles.
Taking care of the feet that carry you through the world is an important part of your overall well-being — don’t forget to give them the support they deserve, whether you’re at work, working out or getting ready for your next workout.