One common misconception we hear from customers about footwear is that “softer” shoes, or shoes with more cushion are better and more comfortable.
We’ve also received a lot of questions about why The Healing Sole is firm. So, we’d like to take the opportunity to explain Dr. Meredith Warner’s reasoning behind this decision.
Benefits Of A Firm Shoe
When you wear soft shoes, they may initially feel good on your feet. However, soft shoes don’t provide the stability and support your feet need. Remember, humans have only worn shoes for a hundred or so years.
All of human history was unshod prior to that and many people still exist as hunter-gatherers. According to the book Exercised by Dr. Daniel Lieberman, the average hunter-gatherer walks the equivalent of the distance from New York to Los Angeles, barefoot, every year. We are endurance walkers naturally. And, naturally, we are meant to use our feet without too much softness underneath.
These hunter-gatherers usually walk about 20,000 steps daily, while we Americans only do about 4,774 (on average). Interestingly, they do not have nearly the same amount of pain or injury that we seem to have in this country.
Imagine you’re at the beach and you’re walking on soft sand. Think about how much work it is on your feet to maintain a neutral gait. The muscles in your feet, ankles and calves are likely working overtime to help propel you forward. Obviously, this is good for you and for your feet and ankles. Ask yourself this question: ‘Why do I try so hard to avoid using my foot muscles?’
Now, imagine you’re at the same beach, but walking on the wet, more firm sand. It’s much easier to walk on this while maintaining your balance. The packed sand provides efficiency that the loose sand does not.
This is much like the principles that were used over a thousand years ago to build Venice, Italy on islands of marshy sand.
The builders impacted many poles of wood into the mud to force the mud to become compact.Then they placed hard wood and then they could build the enormous and glorious buildings that still stand today.
A firm shoe also helps with shock absorption. By using the muscles and connective tissues of the foot more and also more efficiently with a shoe that is not too squishy, in theory there is a large ability to absorb the ground reaction forces associated with walking.
Your feet take a lot of pressure with each step you take. The fat pads at the bottom of your feet can help reduce the impact you take with each step, but over time, your fat pads can deteriorate, leaving you more vulnerable to pain.
But, humans that use their feet more tend to protect and keep more of the vital structures. Think of astronauts that spend months in space. When they return, they have osteoporosis.
The body senses when structures are not being utilized and then takes materials from those structures to use elsewhere. Or, the body simply does not devote any repair time or energy to unused structures. A foot that is coddled all of the time is soft and supple shoes will be considered to have many unnecessary structures by the human body.
With firm shoes, you’re supporting the structural integrity of your fat pads while reducing the shock and stress to your joints as you walk. You are constantly engaging balance reflexes, position sense abilities, muscles, joints and connective tissues. This is the goal of the design. Ultimately, Dr. Warner wants everyone to have strong feet and ankles and to be able to participate in life on their own terms.
The Healing Sole Provides Support You Need
The Healing Sole was designed by Dr. Warner with a firm, rocker bottom sole to help provide the support your feet need.
A rocker bottom sole helps to distribute weight evenly with each step, reducing the pain at certain pressure points of the foot. It can also provide a gentle stretch with each step.
These features, along with the many other elements of The Healing Sole, make it a great option for not only pain relief, but also future foot health.