Foot Health & Choosing Your Shoes Wisely

Foot Health

Pardon me while I interrupt our regularly scheduled nutrition programming to talk about FEET!

I just received my new pair of trail runners today and I am so excited! After moving to the PNW from CA, I started wearing more closed toed shoes. Shortly after, I started dealing with foot pain that no amount of insoles or orthotics could fix. I finally went to a local podiatrist at NW Foot and Ankle who is an expert on restoring natural foot function. He explained that our shoes actually injure our feet over time. The foot problems we have in the developed world are pretty non-existent in countries where people wear little to no footwear!

Here are the ways our shoes kill our feet:

(…and can cause issues from plantar fasciitis to bunions to back pain!)

  • Arch support – Think of a bridge with an arch…the arch is what supports the bridge. You don’t support the arch in order to support the bridge. The arch IS the strength…so keeping your arch strong means not giving it a “crutch” (aka arch supports).

bridge with arch
  • Narrow toeboxes – Our toes are meant to splay out when we walk. Look at a baby’s foot and compare it to yours. See how wide their toes are? Their feet are almost triangular. Now, compare that to your feet. The tips of your toes should be the widest part of your feet. Our shoes squeeze our toes and deform them over time!

baby feet
  • Heel elevation and toe spring – Most shoes lift our heels so our feet are angled down. In addition, the toe of the shoe then curves up, so our toes end up higher than the ball of our foot. So, basically our shoes are contorting our feet and making it impossible for them to function the way they should.

  • Stiff or thick soles – Means our shoes do not allow the natural flexibility and motion of our feet.

After learning all of this, I switched to shoes built for natural foot positioning. The pain went away and hasn’t returned! In fact, the Dr said the best shoes for our feet are the super flimsy, flexible flip flops you can get at the liquor store…who knew??

Look for shoes that are:

  • “Zero drop” (no heel elevation or toe spring)

  • Super flexible and lightweight (allowing proper motion of the foot)

  • Built with a wide toe box (allowing toes to splay out)

  • Built to allow the foot to rest in its proper, natural position so it can naturally stabilize itself

All of this supports better posture, balance and proper joint alignment. In addition, the shoes I just bought (from Altra Running) are a good transitional shoe (if you’re new to this sort of shoe) and are also made to be gender specific to account for the anatomical difference between men’s and women’s feet.

To see other brands of natural foot shoes, check out the list at (Correct Toes are also amazing to help restore proper foot form and health.)

Do you experience any foot pain? Have you tried switching your footwear to shoes like these?

altra superior 3