In Praise of Comfortable Shoes

Our culture is polarized about comfortable shoes. The phrase conjures images of feet swallowed up in grandma's clunky old orthopedic shoes, and we cringe. But to avoid tired achy feet at days end, many of us seek out brands that promise comfort and style. Others of us resort to wearing sneakers and athletic shoes for every occasion.  But selecting the correct shoes for the occasion can provide benefits other than simple comfort.

When you buy new shoes, pick styles that won't leave you compromised during a flat tire or in inclement weather.  When picking your footwear for the day, consider unplanned activities you might be doing in these shoes.  Most importantly, any time you leave the house, make sure you are wearing shoes that could carry you for a mile in the worst weather or take an extra pair along with you.

In difficult situations, summery flip flops, strappy sandals and ballet slippers provide very little protection to your feet.  Having limited arch support, thin soles, and little to no protection on the sides and top, these shoes leave your feet open to injury.  Broken glass, metal debris, sticks, rocks and other hazards may easily puncture through the skin or worse.  What if your toes get stepped on, or someone drops something near your foot?  If the temperature soars or drops how will your toes fare? If needed, could you run across the street without breaking your neck?

High heels can also present a variety of personal hazards.  With an unstable base, high heeled shoes often result in turned ankles on the best of days.  Narrow heels break or catch in floor grates and cracks.  Ever walk down a fire escape in high heels?  The uneven sole can make navigating terrains like soft earth, sand, and gravel almost impossible. There's a reason you take your shoes off for a romantic beach walk.  When buying winter boots, remember that no matter how warm they are, you'll still have difficulty crossing an iced over parking lot in high heels.

While many men's shoe styles are more practical and protective, everyone should consider the benefits of better arch support and cushioned heels or insoles.  Shoes that are too narrow (especially in the toe area) are often damaging to both men's and women's feet.  And men wearing sandals and flip flops are equally at risk for injury.

Tend to your your tootsies everyday, and equip them for those unexpected trials.  And ladies, we can always use another chance to go shoe shopping, right?

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