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Does footwear matter?

It has been estimated that a person walks roughly about 1,76,000 km in his lifetime- a distance comparable to walking around the world almost 4 to 5 times! Now imagine taking all these steps in improper shoes. With hundreds of options available like slippers, chappals, sandals, shoes to stiletto heels, we tend to go for style and design of the footwear as dictated by our favorite actor or actress rather than by comfort and proper fit.

Our feet are quite complicated structures which not only propel us forward but also bear our weight, act as shock absorbers and provide the foundation on which the rest of our skeleton is balanced. When our feet are not healthy, our entire body is affected when it comes to gait, balance, stability and our motion. Our legs, knees, hips, pelvis and spine overcompensate or misalign in response to foot pain, injury or deformity. Therefore, our feet need to be protected and supported and proper footwear becomes so important.

Chances of slips, missteps and falls are increased WHILE wearing improper footwear that leads to sprains, strains and fractures which can take weeks to heal.

High heels and shoes that are narrow in the front can put our toes in unnatural positions leading to crooked toes known as hammer toes. Abnormal thickening of skin known as corns and calluses are formed at abnormal pressure points and ulcers may also develop because of rubbing of skin inside the shoe. Bunions (enlarged bone at bottom of the big toe) can also happen which can cause significant pain and swelling. Plantar fasciitis which is thickening of a strong band of tissue underneath our feet is the most common cause of heel pain affecting millions of people. It is caused from overuse, standing on hard surfaces for too long and wearing unsupportive shoes like flip-flops or sneakers.

Many people have high arched feet or flatfeet but are totally unaware of it. They not only have pain in their feet because of bad footwear but also high up till spine resulting in significant morbidity. Diabetics with lack of sensitivity and poor blood circulation in their feet are highly susceptible to infection from wounds that go unnoticed. Any type of footwear that is not helping in this direction can prove to be extremely hazardous for the patient.

It would be really difficult to convince the general public to stop wearing high fashion ill-fitting shoes; but people need to be educated about foot health and proper footwear choices in order to prevent foot problems arising from bad footwear. Yes, footwear does matter a lot!!


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