How Shoes Negatively Impact Posture And Alignment Of The Body

In our highly ‘modernized’ and ‘civilized’ society we hardly think twice about shoes when we leave the house. Footwear is almost like putting on underwear, it’s quite habitual.. daily.

Do Shoes Affect Posture?
Do Shoes Affect Posture?

But we don’t put much thought into our footwear beyond that we like the design of the shoe. A nice shoe that has a nice appeal. Shoes that have the pattern and colors that you desire. But perhaps there’s more to the shoe story than we’re being told.

Perhaps there’s a multi-billion dollar industry here that has a few secrets to hide. Perhaps, we’ll uncover a few of those today.

Did you know that shoes can actually change your posture and the alignment of your back? I know this story all too well because unfortunately I was uneducated on this subject and it led to some issues.

I was a meter reader for an electric company as a young man, and my knees began to hurt with each step that I took. I didn’t know why this was happening. I was walking around 4 or 5 miles each day on the job, so my knees were getting a lot of steps in and most of it concrete in the city. I was also jumping fences (not advised by the company, but it got the job done quicker) during that time.

With each step that It took my knees would ache with pain and I found out that my shoes (big brand swoosh symbol, won’t say the name) were on my feet. I also had a pair of insoles as well. I learned that my knee biomechanics were completely off from these shoes and the insoles, they were tilting my knees towards the outside, like a swivel.

Had my feet had not been tilted forward and outward so much I probably would have skipped at least 80% of my knee pain if not 100%.

What’s crazier? All Shoes Tilt People Forward

The majority of shoes, at least 9 out of 10 shoes that you see for sale on the market tilt people forward? What do I mean by that? I mean that the shoes quite literally cause a forward standing person completely upright and pushes them forward slightly. This is because the heel of the shoe is slightly elevated. Humans for whatever reason have accepted shoes with heel support. This is seen as a luxury, a feature that gives your feet cushioning.

While it may be a ‘luxury’ and give your feet more ‘cushioning’ it doesn’t change the fact that it throws the posture at a different angle, than if you were barefoot and flat footed. When the heal is elevated the knees are going to naturally get pushed forward slightly also.

This causes walking posture to reduce range of motion (slightly) and in doing so creates an imbalance in the legs and lower back. Watch this video to understand more:

As you can see there are two issues here that it causes posture to be compromised in. The heel elevated pushes the knees forward slightly and this causes the hips to become slightly displaced and then the back to be affected as well. A little tilt can cause a little reaction through the whole spine.

Another “Modern Feature” Of Shoes We Need To Ditch

Another modern feature of shoes that we need to ditch is having shoes that have toes that are constricted in the front. This causes the width of the feet to not be fully expressed. It’s the difference between the feet of a ballet dancer and someone in an underdeveloped country that hasn’t worn shoes a day in their life. Have you ever seen the vast difference here?

They call it ‘shod’ and unshod feet.

There are actually terms for it! Take a look:

Do you see how the feet on the left have toes that are squished together and the foot on the right has a gap in between the big toe and the second toe? This is the difference between feet that are in shoes that constrict the toes inward, versus shoes that are wide open left to right, or simply being barefoot.

The toes naturally create a little more space, and it’s good for your toes to have space so our feet can ‘open up’ think “Tarzan Feet” here is what you want. Look at the gap between those toes! Now, I don’t have a foot fetish.. but that’s what you want. Nice job Tarzan!

I can see the the headlines now..

Crowd Chants: “Give My Tarzan Feet Back” In Front Of Major Shoe Manufacturer Headquarters.

As you may now understand you do NOT want shoes that have specific features. You want shoes that are quite literally the closest thing to mimicking walking barefoot. This is why you want to only wear ‘barefoot minimalist shoes‘ as these are shoes that are designed for posture and biomechanics.

Shoes designed with health and fitness in mind, not for ‘fashion’ – but for function.

I have tried four different barefoot minimalist shoe brands now and I can honestly say that my favorite brand that I landed on was Xero Shoes. This shoe brand designs shoes that are barefoot and minimalist and simply work. They feel the most comfortable while my feet feeling the most free. If that makes sense.

I’ve also tried shoes from Vivo Shoes and Lems shoes that I’ve enjoyed also.

The Big Question is Do Shoes Affect Posture?

The question answered ‘do shoes affect posture’ becomes pretty obvious when you realize that your heel is elevated, pushing your knees forward, misaligning your hips and back. The toes being squished together is not beneficial either because your right to left and left to write movement patterns need toes separated!

When toes are close together because they are squished into foot casts (okay, shoes) this creates less foot surface area on the ground. Which means that balance decreases, and side to side mobility isn’t as solid either.

Your legs are the number one muscle group for longevity. The stronger and more flexible your legs are the longer you will live, provided you don’t get hit by a bus or something. Stronger feet and more flexible feet give your legs the ability to hold more weight, or move your weight better. Stronger feet means stronger legs, a stronger body and longer longevity! What’s not to love?

I personally wear the Xero Prio Shoes, its the best shoes I have ever owned. I used to work at a shoe store in high school also, I’ve had many pairs of shoes in my life. This pair is something special! 

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