How to choose sports shoes?

80% of children have healthy feet, while only 20% of adults do. Why is it so? There are many reasons, but let’s focus on one we all encounter every day – shoes.  Check out what to pay attention to when choosing sports shoes – and not only!


Room for your toes

When our shoes have too little room for our toes, hard soles and high uppers, we limit the motion of all those small structures of the foot and ankle that are just made to move. The result is, we weaken our blood circulation, and thereby the nutrition of tissues – including nerve tissue, which is of particular importance, since the soles of our feet (not of our shoes!) – like our nose or eyes – are sensory organs!

Flexible soles

Go for shoes with a thin, flexible sole. Why? Contact between our feet (not our shoes!) and the ground provides our nervous system with information about the surrounding environment. In the case of super-dexterous feet, when we stand, say, on stone, our brain – notified about the ‘deformation’ of the joints of the foot – directs the ankles, knees, hips and pelvis so that the body can continue working (walking/running) without disruptions such as a change in speed or loss of balance. The risk of a fall and injury is minimised.

Whereas when the foot is desensitised, immobilised and isolated from its environment, it cannot send the information the brain needs about what’s going on below. As a result, the nervous system has no chance to direct the other joints to momentarily compensate for the conditions created by the external environment. In short: the ankles, knees and hips don’t react properly, we lose stability, and we’re all set for a fall.

No heels

Choose shoes without a heel, where ‘heel’ means anything that lifts the heel up – even those small raised heels you find on typical sports shoes.

The slightest elevation of the heel in relation to the toes forces the body to find a way to remain upright (more or less) despite the change in the position of the foot. The centre of gravity then shifts forward, the curve in the lower part of the spine increases, and a greater load is placed on the ball of the foot together with the toes (squeezed into our shoes). The pelvis is no longer above the heels where it should be for our bones, loaded along their long axes, to build up an optimal mineral density.

This position also frequently leads to excess tension in the front part of the thighs and adherence of the kneecap to the joint surfaces (knee pain). At the same time, the muscles of the buttocks, which are important stabilisers of the spine, work less. All these forces, acting against nature, lead to excessive exploitation of the joints (e.g. through a more intensive ‘consumption’ of joint cartilage). No matter how you look at it – you lose.

Or... train barefoot!

The ideal solution: spend as much time barefoot as you can. If you don’t train in the woods or on mountains trails, try it without shoes. Use the potential of your feet and let them – as the base of your body – determine everything that goes on in its upper segments.

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