First the good news for all footwear fans: a change is good for your feet. It's better to have many different shoes – as long as you actually wear them, of course! – than only one pair. Shoes force your feet into a rigid position. If you only ever wear one pair, your joints will always be subjected to the same stresses, which can wear out your feet or put them under too much strain. That doesn't happen if you regularly change footwear.
Just as important as changing your shoes is choosing the right size. If your shoes are too short, they press your toe inwards, resulting in misalignment. It's like having a pebble in your shoe which prevents you from placing your foot on the ground normally, causing problems with your knees and hips, and even your spine. If you have a genetic predisposition on top of the misalignment of your foot, you may end up with a bent big toe and a bunion, also known as hallux valgus. In most cases this will require surgery.
Here are some practical tips to help you choose the right footwear:
- The shoe has to be comfortable from the outset.
- Don't get stuck on shoe sizes. They're not standardised.
- The shoe should be at least 12 mm and up to 17 mm longer than your longest toe.
- The shoe should fit perfectly around your heel and toes. The heel should be round, and the toe box should be wide enough. Many foot problems are the result of wearing shoes that are too tight.
- If you have narrow feet, it's best to buy footwear with laces or Velcro fasteners.
- Always try out shoes on both feet.
- Go shopping for shoes in the evening. Your feet expand over the course of the day.
- Get your kids' feet measured regularly. They grow around a millimetre a month.
- Just because shoes are expensive doesn't mean they're good.
Barefoot is best, high heels are hell
Whenever you have the opportunity you should go barefoot over meadows or forest trails. Walking barefoot is the ideal training for your feet. By the same token you should avoid wearing high heels on a daily basis. The higher the heels, the more unhealthy they are for your feet.