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Valentina Carlile Osteopata
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  • Writer's pictureValentina Carlile DO

How much do shoes “weigh”?

How much do shoes “weigh”?

Shoes are not designed to fit the shape of our feet. On the other hand, our feet are forced to adapt to the shape of our shoes. Over time our feet thus lose their flexibility. The interesting thing is that once you lose flexibility, it starts to become more painful to walk without shoes.

We abuse our feet a lot. Society has determined that high heels and the unnatural height difference they create are sexy. We are more attentive to fashion than health.

As an Osteopath I want to illustrate the alterations that I have found most often in my patients.

Compressed fingers: Over time, many people develop toes that overlap or are pointed sideways. This also leads to many problems including calluses and valgus. The feet of those who do not wear shoes have their natural space between the toes. Pointy shoes are certainly nicer, but the moment the toes become compressed they begin to be less functional. Many people cannot flex their fingers (bend them down) without cramping.

Tapered shoes: a wider insole is more stable than a narrower one, despite this we often wear shoes whose insoles are narrower than our sole. Over time, the small muscles found between the metatarsals become permanently contracted. Additionally, the small bones of the tarsus become compressed and lose their range of motion. The result is that we acquire compressed feet that lose their flexibility. Releasing tension in the muscles between the metatarsals helps to recover some of this range between the tarsal bones, and to relax the ankle muscles, which are constantly stiff and, sometimes, this also has beneficial effects on the sacroiliac joint. iliac due to the functional chains.

Reduction of heel mobility: the heel absorbs shocks with every step, but it is not designed to absorb shocks. This management of the heel causes it to not only become compressed upwards in the ankle, but also to be dragged backwards. Over time, it may remain in this position permanently. A joint problem between the heel and the bones of the foot can cause pain referred under the heel itself, mimicking what will then be erroneously diagnosed as plantar fasciitis. In addition to this, the heel has attachments for the plantar fascia and ankle muscles via the Achilles tendon. Sometimes a heel dysfunction gives rise to chronic stiffness of each associated muscle, the ankle as a whole and other parts higher up.

Stiffness of the plantar fascia: the plantar fascia is connective tissue that is anchored from the toes to the heel. Precisely for these assumptions, the plantar fascia is associated with the toes and heel, and responds to the dysfunctions associated with these parts, just as muscles respond to contractions. However, the more the foot changes shape, the more the plantar fascia will stiffen. To make matters worse, arch supports in shoes abnormally stretch the plantar fascia, irritating it.

Falling of the metatarsal heads: If you have ever watched a woman walk on high heels, you will have noticed that with each step the metatarsal heads move downwards and towards the ground and the toes, on the other hand, move upwards, at a non-physiological angle. Over time, all of this permanently changes the metatarsophalangeal joints. What happens is they fall, becoming prominent at the bottom, exposed and painful to walk on. This is called metatarsalgia. It is usually a more accentuated phenomenon in those who wear high heels, but also present in those who wear other shoes. If you try to place your shoes on a flat surface, you can easily see that the toe is bent upwards. This happens because shoes, including sneakers, are very rigid and immobilize the feet even if the shoe is constructed respecting torsions. This stiffness will constantly push the fingers upwards causing the above problems.

The solution to many of these problems is to work to maintain flexibility and stability in your feet and, specifically, in the structures mentioned.

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