How Have Your Shoes Shaped Your Feet? Try This Simple Test
This past weekend, I was at an old friend’s wedding. It was a wonderful night, replete with love and laughter and incredibly articulate and moving speeches. I got to wear a dress, which was fun, and I attempted to wear a pair of sandals I bought back when I was working in an office, which was not. MY SANDALS NO LONGER FIT ME. After 3 years of working very hard to get my feet to be foot-shaped again, wearing an old pair of shoes really blew my mind.
They were about a centimeter too short and the strap barely covered my little toe. Not to mention squashing it completely. Poor little toes, I lasted about 5 minutes before I lost the sandals and spent the rest of the night in bare feet.
These shoes used to fit, though, for real. Or at least, what I used to think ‘fitting’ meant.
First lesson: Always try on your entire outfit before you pack it.
Second lesson: All my hard work is paying off! My feet are changing!
Third lesson: If you want to keep your feet happy, buy shoes that are foot-shaped!
Trees are shaped by the wind.
If you’ve ever seen trees by a windy shore, you’ll notice that they permanently look like they’re being blown in the same direction as the prevailing winds.
Those trees (just like every other tree) have literally been shaped by their environment. The force of the wind has caused their trunks to form at crazy angles, their branches to sweep back, and myriad other changes that allow the trees to survive and thrive.
You are also shaped by your environment.
Just like the trees, your environment shapes your body. And feet are probably the easiest place to see that happening.
This foot has been wearing shoes with raised heels and narrow boxes for a long time. It’s responded to the mechanical forces by reshaping itself to reinforce the bits that need reinforcing, shortening, widening, and just generally adapting to the forces that have been applied to it. Which is actually completely AMAZING. Except of course that this sort of thing ends up being painful.
No matter what shoes you choose, they’re shaping your feet (I was soooo excited to find that my shoe choices for the last three years have been changing mine for the better!)
Some shapes are more what you want than others. I prefer recommend that are actually foot-shaped, because that’s what’s going to help your feet stay that way!
So I thought I’d share this super easy way to test your shoes and see how they’re affecting your feet!
Try this easy test to see how YOUR shoe environment is shaping you.
Step One: Grab a couple pieces of paper, a sharpie and a friend. Get them to draw the outline of your feet for you.
Step Two: Compare the outline of your feet with your shoes. If the outline is bigger than your shoes, it means they are squashing your feet and your feet are ADAPTING to it. Which means stuff like bunions, neuromas and poor circulation. Not awesome.
What I discovered from wearing my sandals to the wedding is that my feet have widened. When I did the foot-outline test, it proved what I already knew – the outline of my foot was bigger than the outline of my sandals. My feet have adapted to my barefoot, minimal shoes, high levels of barefoot time, and my hard work mobilizing and strengthening my feet. Which is amazing, but it clearly means that I need some new shoes before the next fancy wedding I go to!
What did you discover? I’d love to hear what you found in the comments below!
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Petra is a movement educator and personal trainer with a passion for helping people find greater ease, joy and health in their bodies. She believes that better movement can help every body - and she's always happy to chat about it. She's on the road right now, travelling the world and moving in as many ways as possible. When she's not out exploring or working on her movement practice, you can probably find her hanging on some monkey bars.