Today the sun was shining and it was actually nice outside for an Ohio day in the middle of winter. I have seen so many folks out and about walking, running and sometimes biking lately-it's great! I also have some clients and friends who have made some goals for themselves for the coming months to be more active, and get stuff done-myself included! With these goals comes more movement, more stress to your body, more sore and tight muscles, but also more success, feeling better and conquering some of those small goals that perhaps you've been striving to meet for a long time. This is all wonderful, however, there are some things we should think about when it comes to more movement, and one of those is your shoes. Why should we worry about our shoes? Why is a Massage Therapist telling me about shoes? Well, I can share with you my experience of shoes through the different careers I have pursued and the things I have learned from some shoe professionals as well.
I have had many jobs over the years, from a restaurant to a hospital, all of which required me being on my feet for long periods of time. Doing this for several days a week was enjoyable for me as I loved what I was doing, but it also took my feet having pain for me to take another look at what I was wearing on my feet. What did I do? Well, my husband is a runner, and one day we ventured to a specialty store for shoes for him. I got to thinking about folks who run marathons and are on their feet for hours at a time and thought, "Couldn't some of these shoes work for me, too?" So, I explained to the folks working there what I did, and what I was looking for and here came the shoes!!! I probably tried on 5 or 6 pairs and eventually picked one that I thought worked and felt the best. These worked for a while, but when they started to wear out, I was ready for another pair. This time we went to a different specialty running and walking shoe store. I have to say, my experience here was much better and they were more detailed and thorough than the first place. Why? Well, they took time to ask me questions, what I wanted, what I was doing, and they watched me walk! They watched how my foot was moving with my body and from that, they were able to determine what kind of shoe would work best for me. I tend to roll my ankles out and walk on the outer part of my foot, so this meant that I needed a shoe with more support on the outside of the foot, so I wouldn't roll quite as much. Hooray! Finding out this information was kind of cool to me, if only because I had never thought of it. I look at people's bodies all the time, and even though I knew my feet did this, I had never had the idea to seek out a shoe specific to this need.
Why does this make a difference for us? Well, for starters, it can put us into a more biomechanically sound position. Why is this good? If we are moving in a better position, it can help us not have quite as many aches and pains. This isn't always true and each body is different-in the way they move and respond to changes that we make with them, so each case is going to be different. What is my point? The support we get from either a new pair of shoes, or those that are fitted to us, and what our feet and body need, can make a difference, especially when we want to be more active. Increased activity is a good thing, for sure, but being smart in it, is even more important. Most folks couldn't go out tomorrow and run a marathon without having serious side effects-some being their shoes and some being their body. Some folks are going to need shoes more often than others - myself being one of them. Some of us carry more weight than others, have heavier steps, or move slower; there are SO many factors that affect how your shoes wear and how fast they wear. I bet if you take off your shoe right now, and look at the bottom, you might get an idea of how your foot is moving, simply by looking at the wear on the shoe. Suppose you didn't have any cushion in your shoe, but went out for a 5 mile walk. How would this affect you and your body? Your feet would probably hurt, and perhaps your low back and hips would have some pain in them. Buying shoes that fit your feet for what you want to do can help this. If you want to walk or run longer distances, you will probably want shoes that have more cushion. If you want to be fast and go for a personal record, or simply be speedy at shorter distances, you might want a thinner, lighter shoe that may not have as much cushion. There are so many varieties of shoes out there for people who want to do just about anything.
Not only do the shoes make a difference, but we can also help make a difference with massage. In being more active, with our new shoes of course, we get aches and pains, and soreness in places we didn't even know we had! I noticed when I changed the type of shoe I was wearing, that my legs felt different. I felt a little bit of tightness in my calves that I had not noticed before, and the next few massages I received were a bit more painful. Again, this isn't true for everyone, but there are subtle changes that can happen in our bodies when we get new things and adjust to them. Just like some folks getting new glasses and being able to see more clearly, the shoes and massage can help our body see more clearly in our activity. Working on the new aches, pains and tightness with massage can help immensely when moving into more activity levels and I highly encourage it!
I'm happy to answer questions if you have them, so feel free to send me a note at