These shoes are made for walking
The demands made on our feet and legs when walking can lead to a range of injuries, even as a result of short strolls. Most of us will have endured a blister (caused by friction hotspots within ill-fitting shoes), while many women happily risk spraining an ankle in towering heels.
Suffering from calluses? Review your shoe size. A callus is protective dead skin that builds up to shield the foot when it’s sliding about in footwear that is too big. Corns and bursas on the tops and sides of the toes can be caused by footwear that is too narrow in the toe box, while shoes that press on the toes can be the culprit for ingrown toenails.
“The key to keeping your feet injury-free, regardless of the type of walking you do, is wearing properly fitting shoes,” says Michelle Champlin, the founder and chief podiatrist of Dubai Podiatry Centre.
Whether you are preparing for a lengthy hike through the UAE’s wadis or spending a few hours browsing around a mall, wearing proper footwear is vital.
Wearing the wrong shoes can not only lead to foot injury, but can also pave the way for worsening underlying issues such as over-pronation (rolling in) or plantar fasciitis (heel pain).
Footwear that does not provide enough shock absorption in the sole, meanwhile, can lead to stress fractures to the metatarsal bones. Torn ligaments, shin splints (leg pain), knee pain, lower back pain and other joint or muscle problems from ill-fitting or inappropriate footwear all increase the risk of long-term injury.
A word of warning to the UAE’s legion of flip-flop fans: even though you may not be conscious of it, wearing flip-flop-style shoes encourages the foot to over-pronate in order to hold the flip-flop on your foot.
And it’s bad news for the women who are devoted to hard-core heels: sky-high stilettos pose a health hazard to anyone who plans on teetering much farther than desk to espresso machine.
“Stilettos greatly alter one’s walk by forcing all your weight forward onto your toes and squashing your toes together, putting extra stress on your outer hip muscles and tendons, inner knees and lower back, and causing a range of issues from bunions and corns to a shortening of the Achilles tendons,” cautions Champlin.
While we rarely give a second thought to the action of walking from point A to point B, there is, in fact, a “correct” technique, reveals Champlin.
“Walking is a heel to toe movement,” she says. “Comfortable and efficient walking begins with a good foot strike, which allows your ankle to move through its complete range of motion.”
The four steps to achieving the best walking technique are:
• Step forward landing slightly on the outer edge of your heel;
• Roll forward onto the ball of the foot;
• Raise your heel and push off with your big toe;
•As the heel of your leading foot is striking, ensure you are being propelled forward by your back foot pushing off the ground.
With a correct walking technique we enable our feet to achieve their two main objectives: stability and mobility. Not only do our feet keep us stable and upright, but they also act as levers to help move us forward. Plus they absorb shock and carry us through different paces or gaits – from walking to sprinting.
According to Champlin, about 30 per cent of people have a “normally” functioning foot; 95 per cent of the remainder are most likely to over-pronate, while 5 per cent will over-supinate