Is wearing high heels bad for your feet? Does walking on sand help any foot pain you have? And do kids need to wear special shoes with inserts? Podiatrist Daniel Fitzpatrick from Alternative Foot Solutions busts the most popular myths about feet.
1. Heels cause all of women’s foot problems
Not true. Now I’m not saying that heels are good for your feet, but many common foot problems are at similar rates in populations that don’t wear shoes. Heels can definitely accelerate foot problems but someone still has to have the traits that would cause the foot problem in the first place.
2. Walking barefoot is bad for you
Not true. Walking bare foot helps to strength muscles, helps balance and coordination. In some cases it may be uncomfortable but this is usually due to tight lower leg muscles. You can fix this in many cases with simply stretching your calves.
3. You need supportive foot wear otherwise you will get bad feet
Not true. In fact, recent studies suggest support in most types of supportive foot wear isn’t actually doing anything to help control your foot and in fact having less support can help to build strength in the long term.
4. You get foot pain because you’re getting old
Not true. Foot pain in most cases is due to misalignment (or the bones of your feet being in the wrong place) and as a result flares up the soft tissues, which results in pain. The great news is it’s fixable.
5. Your feet don’t change once you’re an adult
Feet definitely change over the course of your life. For example, arches can get higher or lower. The great news is that practitioners can help do this in a positive way if foot structures are causing problems.
In fact, a great example of feet changing is when women become pregnant and the hormone relaxin causes feet to spread and become longer. This can cause a number of issues. The great news is we can usually reverse these effects and get the foot to change back to a similar size down the track.
6. You can’t change someone’s arch when they’re an adult
Yes, you can and we do it all the time. The arch is quite a dynamic structure that can adopt a new position with the right influences.
7. All thongs are bad for you
No, in fact there are some fantastic thongs on the market that provide excellent support. Inn fact, they are probably better for you than lots of expensive runners. Birkenstocks are an example of these but there are many good quality thongs on the market starting at about $30. Most people aren’t wearing thongs enough to cause a problem anyway.
8. To fix a foot problem you have to wear special shoes with inserts
This was the case once upon a time but there are plenty of techniques to address the underlying cause without having to be restricted to orthotics or supportive footwear. There are gentle hands-on techniques which can improve the structures of the feet along with exercises.
9. Kids need supportive foot wear
Not true. Unless they have specific foot problems, children get huge advantages in bare feet or lighter shoes that give a barefoot sensation. In fact, we're finding that heavy supportive shoes in kids can actually impede normal function and interfere with balance and coordination. This is evident before five years and continues into the teens.
10. Walking on sand will help any foot pain you have
A common misconception is that sand will help your foot if you have pain. In most cases it will irritate any inflammation that you might have through the structures of your feet. If you have very good feet/biomechanics then sand can help to strengthen but most people don’t fall into that category.
For more information, go to www.alternativefootsolutions.com.au.
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