Footwear is made to cover our feet. Shoes can be cheap, expensive, ugly, beautiful, functional, impractical, right or wrong. Footwear says so much about who you are, what you do, and where you are going. The difference made by a shoe can make or break you – literally! Keep on reading to find the why one shoe does not fit all, and which shoe will make the difference for your destination.
Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?
A foot is a complex piece of human anatomy that has 26 bones, 33 joints – of which 20 are actively articulated – and hundreds of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. No wonder that so many ailments can affect the foot! And shoes are often to blame.
The Right Shoe for the Wrong Occasion
The right shoe for the right occasion is what has led me to write this post. After a childhood of shoes that were more practical than pretty, I rebelled and excelled as a teenager (and later ) in choosing high-heeled pumps for forest walks, sandals for rainy days, and one pair of trainers for every attempt at sports. Of course — nature excursions, sports and any activities involving painful feet were not on my list of favorite things to do. Well, that was my excuse at least! Until – Now!
Footwear is like a Car
Now I have discovered what a difference a shoe makes! With lifestyle changes come life-altering realizations in many forms. My shoes – along with almost everything else – have changed too! The right shoes for the right occasion make such a difference! It adds comfort, practicality, function, and these days (thankfully!) style.
Finally, the healthy footwear of the past is no longer square, ugly shaped, elephant-heavy attachments at the end of your legs. Shoes are like cars these days — and globalization has led to a style marrying technical know-how and functionality. Yes!
There is a shoe for every occasion, and choosing the right pair will make the whole difference. Starting with getting to know your feet, to finding the right fit for that activity you are embarking on and of course making sure your destination is involved your shoe choice too.
These 24 tips are part of my lifestyle change trip, and as so aptly said:
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Footwear: 24 Little Tips
Feet and Legs
- Look at your Feet and figure out if what the Pronation is based on your gait or footprint. This is your first step to getting the right shoe in the future.
- Measure your Legs. 50% of the US population has uneven leg length, and therefore often seek treatment for lower back pain. Heel lifts or inlays will impact on your shoe choice.
- Figure out your Shoe size. That may sound crazy, but in today’s’ global market converting shoe sizes between counties can be ever so tricky. This conversation chart can help the International Shoe Conversion Chart.
- Foot care is for everyone! General foot care, ingrown nails, hard surfaces and other such lovely occurrences can be taken care of by a Podiatrist. Have a pedicure ever so often. Check out this website for more information about pedicures.
- Use a foot cream every night. I love ‘Sole Solution’ by Nuskin, and it has literally changed my formerly hard feet to soft smooth-skinned wonders. (click on the photo to get it!)
- With footwear comes the right socks. Often we forget that there is a sock for each type of shoe. Socks in sandals are not a hit, nor are sports socks in an elegant pair of Brogues, right?! Fashion aside – wrong socks makes your foot slip, or be too tight, which leads to blisters and other unwanted painful issues.
- Let your activity choose the shoes and not vice versa. Office, Night out, Fieldwork, Walking, Cross Training, Pilates, Strength/ Resistance, Running, Hiking, Desert, Bugs, Icy terrain, Winter Streets – they all demand their shoe!
Footwear by Activity
- Working in an office or in a field setting will determine your choice of shoes. Climate controlled environments will make it easier for those chic shoes that go with your office suite. You will be on your feet a lot, run errands, go for a lunchtime walk, and rush backward and forwards between meetings. Is there such a thing as a stylish shoe for office work? My favorite choices come from Geox, who combine style, healthy foot thinking, breathable, comfortable shoes all in one pair. A good pair of shoes for the office must look the part as well as support you all day long. Shoes also say a lot about professional status, so investing in a few classic pairs that will last through the fashion seasons is worth their weight in ‘gold’.
- Party, nightlife, and elegance will open up the door to beautiful shoes of all colors, types, and designers. The emphasis of this post is not really these beauties, but suffice to say that the right shoe will definitely make the difference to the whole occasion. You can find out more here. Nights out will vary in different cultures too. If you are invited to a Scandinavian home, it is advisable to leave your shoes by the door. The outside climate doesn’t marry well will the light interiors – so bring a pair of indoor shoes. Likewise, if you visit Southern European home do not take off your shoes as that would be an equivalent faux-pas, as the soles of your feet should not be shown.
- If you work in humanitarian aid, transport, aviation, logistics etc in a remote field setting, the climate and the job you do will impact your choice of working shoes a lot. Geographical location, rainy season, desert climates, frozen tundra, or animals (snakes, scorpions, bugs etc) will need to be taken into account too. I highly recommend going to specialist stores that can guide you through the ins and outs of the variety that is available. Amazon has a huge range to choose from, and deliver directly to your door. It is tempting to buy ‘any old pair’ but, good working shoes can make the whole difference. Especially when you’re away for weeks on end with no possibility to get another pair. You can check out some of my top tips in the widget below.
- Leisure or Free time shoes range from Flip Flops to Boots – choices are as many as the activities spent on previous time off. Fashion, style, destination and what you feel comfortable in is what dictates what you wear. Top tip though is not to mix the shoes with its intended use. A particular pet hate is hairy toes in Flip Flops that drag their owner around town when the only use for these kinds of shoes should be the beach! Equally – turning up for a mushroom picking excursion in a pair of Stilettos will put you at odds with the occasion. The fact is that Flop Flops or Stilettos are not meant for walking. They will impact your balance, make other parts of your body overcompensate and as such provoke overall pain and/or health issues.
- Icy winter streets can be real danger zones – and many hip and bone fractures could be avoided if only you had the right footwear. I love Ice Bugs, which are not only super stylish but come with mini spikes. Icebugs are favored in Scandinavia – and they know their winters! Just imagine how much you would lose if you were laid up because of a fracture, so get your pair now ready for the next ice dance.
- Walking is also an activity that actually demands particular shoes. The surface you are most likely to spend the bulk of your time on will tell you what to go for. A good pair of walking shoes will improve speed, endurance, and balance. If the fit is not right, other parts of your body will overcompensate and as such your walk will not only be painful, but your overall health can be impacted. In the past walking and hiking boots tended to be heavy, easily water-logged and the shape reminded one of Elephant Feet. These days you can find a lightweight, stylish Walking, Trekking and Hiking Shoes that work all-round. In a specialist store expert staff will guide you in the right direction, and then you can choose to buy them online and have them delivered to your door. Do remember that walking shoes are tools, and only last so long. The average duration of a well-used pair is 6 months, or 400 miles (644 Km). After that, you need to buy a new pair.
Footwear for Fitness and Training
- You need to choose the right type of footwear for the kind of fitness, sports or workout activity you will be doing. A shoe made for running is very different from a shoe made for basketball or tennis. Using the wrong sports shoe can impede your performance but more importantly actually provoke injury. The feet move differently when you run forward, as opposed to sideways, and as such the shoes are designed to give different levels of support to your foot. As a fitness fan, you will soon discover what a difference a shoe makes when you get the right shoe for your sport. Do get the expert advice you need when buying them, and try on many different pairs to find which ones fit you. It is an investment after all!
- Running Shoes have gone through an evolution, and are now highly sophisticated pieces of equipment. Running shoes have no lateral stability, as you will be moving forward. They are designed to give you support and stability as you move your foot through the running gait cycle. If you are an experienced runner you will be investing good money to avoid injury and to make sure your foot’s individuality is covered. Running shoes for every foot can be found online from Amazon. You can also go to a good sports store and let an expert guide you in your choice. A start can be to check out this site: Expert advice on how to choose running shoes.
- Cross Training: A good cross-trainer will allow you to do the treadmill, some walking on asphalt or on a track, and light jogging. To choose a good cross-trainer, you will be looking for a firm heel, support, and lightweight. Good Cross Training Shoes are available online and in good sports stores, if you have access to them.
- Resistance/Weights: Your firm running shoes will not work for weight training well, as you need a good firm grip of the ground you are on. Go to Amazon and check them out for the lightweight, flexible, flat type barefoot trainers that you will be looking for.
- Gym / Aerobics / Strength Training Class will require supportive shoes. Side to Sidestepping and constant jumping will ask for a shoe that provides cushioning, flexibility, support, and grip. A minimalist cross trainer that gives arch and ankle support without the bulk will keep your feet happy. Check out the widget below for recommendations.
- Tennis/Squash and Racquet Sports: Racquet spots involve a lot of side-to-side movement, and you need sports shoes specifically designed for lateral stability. Running shoes will not work, therefore. Racquet Sports Shoes are heavier and stiffer than running shoes, and the toes are built for stop-and-go action. Making sure that you choose a pair that feels comfortable for your feet is essential, and making sure to replacing them frequently as they wear out fast.
- Bicycle Shoes: Compared to typical athletic shoes, cycling shoes are designed with stiffer soles to provide more efficient energy transfer as you pedal away. These stiff soles also protect your feet while riding and offer support that reduces cramping and fatigue. The uppers are also relatively rigid for extra support. A good pair of cross trainers could work if you are not an everyday bicyclist.
- Pilates and Yoga: Barefoot is, of course, the norm for Pilates and Yoga, and the natural movement of the feet is key to alignment and flexibility. However to keep warm in colder climates, or for personal hygiene, many opt for specialized Pilates and Yoga ‘Shoes’. These hit just below the ankle so alignment can be checked, and are rubberized for better grip.
Footwear Care and Wear
- Take care of your shoes, so they last longer. You use different shoes for different occasions, and the better you take care of them the longer they last. Give them a shine, take them to the cobbler and prop them up with shoe horns, old socks or silk paper so they don’t lose their shape. Most shoes will last years, and even when you think they are out of fashion to give them a seasonal beauty session – and before you know it fashion will have spun around and they are in again.
- Whilst the above is true for your classic designer, leather investment shoes – fitness shoes last relatively shorter and you must be cruel to be kind to your feet. If in doubt take your trainers to a serious sports shop and ask their opinion.
- Lastly – but absolutely not least: Make a difference in someone’s life and give away your old shoes! Check out this site and find links to how your old running shoes will make someone very happy: Giving Back: Donate Your Old Shoes. Also, Soles4Souls has made a difference by people like you donating your old shoes. Make a search yourself for a place near you where you can make a difference in someone’s life, by giving away your old shoes!
What a difference a day made – 24 little hours…
Dinah Washington sang and inspired me while I was walking in a pair of trainers actually made for walking. They had not been used for walking before, and now they were. What a difference a shoe made! I hope the 24 tips can help you find your perfect pair for your activity. Please feel free to share your footwear thoughts and shoe comments below.
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Recommended and Related:
- Why Proper Shoes Matter to your Workout – Livestrong.com
- The Definitive Buyers Guide To Walking Shoes – professionalcamping.com
- How Good Walking Shoes are Important – Livestrong.com
- The Importance of Footwear – Gosupersisters.com
- Footwear and Exercise – Fitness Expert Blog
- Running Shoe Expert Advice – Rei.com
- Pedicures Explored – Beautyresource.co.uk