There are numerous reasons for the wearing of shoes. We wear them to protect our feet from the elements when the ground beneath us is too cold or too hot for our soles to withstand. Our outside world (and possibly inside) is not usually soft and smooth so our shoes become a barrier between it and our feet. Shoes protect our feet from encountering objects which may hurt us.
We have been conditioned to believe that we need shoes for support of our feet and ankles. Just watching advertisements on television leads us to believe (if you believe marketing hype) that we need support as our natural foot and leg structures are not enough for every day functionality.
Just walking into a sports shoe shop will have us encounter such a variety of shoes which can completely bamboozle us. Every sporting activity seemingly has a differently structured shoe and we believe if we buy the correct shoe, we can become sporting superstars. This may be going a bit far but we often buy based upon perceived reality.
Probably the greatest reason for the wearing of shoes is fashion. Fashion dictates to us what we should have on our feet. Over the years as the shopping experience has become more and more ingrained into our psyches and we are conditioned to purchase items as often as possible, shoes become a statement on who or what we are.
Shoes can denote class status, wealth and fashion sense. We may judge others depending on their shoe selection. Do we keep our shoes in good condition or do we allow them to succumb to the elements? A lot of things can be read into our shoes – whether they are accurate or not. An expensive shoe may mean the difference between gaining entry into an exclusive club and being left outside in a queue waiting to get in.
Consumerism has spawned a wealth of shoe shops in many societies, creating desire in our hearts and minds. There are many men and women who have a huge assortment of shoes in their wardrobes, often not being worn and even forgotten about (and I speak from personal experience).
In my role as a Restorative Exercise teacher, I meet a lot of people with back and other joint pain. This is often related to poor alignment. I believe the types of shoes people wear contributes to poor alignment and related injuries. This is particularly so for clients who are or have been runners.
In the long term do the benefits associated with protection, support, fashion, status or consumerism outweigh the cost of poor posture and related injuries?
I think not. I am fast becoming the ‘Imelda Marcos’ of barefoot shoes. A pair for every occasion – who says health has to be boring?