I don't 'exercise', such as running, but I speed walk for two hours a day. A friend who massages my feet said that I need shoes with good arch support.
What are some good, affordable brands just for long term walking? Preferably something lightweight. I've heard of VFFs, Kigos, minimalist shoes, barefoot shoes. Too many options. Do you have recommendations?
*By the way I have sesamoid pain in one of my feet (not caused by any of my walking shoes)
I was a mile back and forth to work ever day, plus walking the dog, and being on my feet all day, and I tried everything. I spent 400$ on shoes in six months looking for something that would take the pain away. Enter Vibram Five Fingers. After a few days I did not have another problem.
Your feet are like any other muscle group in your body, they need to be exercised to be strong. We have sheilded our feet so much from their natural position by providing more and more support, which actually makes them weaker.
Also, your feet are supposed to pronate, they are supposed to flex and move and shift weight, strong feet have high arches too. These are not problems, as the shoe companies would lead you to believe, in fact back before the modern running shoe was invented instances of planter fascia and achilles injuries were significantly less because our feet were actually stronger.
The heel searches for a stable platform to land on, so when you add all of this cushioning to a shoe the heel actually hits the ground harder, as it is driving through the shoe and trying to find the ground, this is part of how our balance evolved, the foot instinctively searches for solid ground, so heel cushioning makes you slam your feet down harder, causing more injury.
Think of it like doing squats on a smith machine, you are limiting your range of motion and will never get as strong as an actual squat, and might ruin your back in the process. Sorry for rambling. Go with minimalist shoes.
Firstly, minimalist or barefoot shoes aren't going to offer any arch support - that's the point, of them, they are supposed to be as close as possible to walking (or running) barefoot.
I have very high arches, and (until recently) I've always tried to wear motion control shoes - such as Nike Pegasus - to help mitigate their influence. The consequence of this is that I always had sore ankles, until I started wearing VFFs and Nike Free. I now realise that my high arch is a beautiful shock absorbing mechanism.
Unless you have very specific problems, I don't think that supporting your arches is very paleo. I prefer to use the feet that evolution gave me, rather than some crude mechanical bodge up.
I also probably wouldn't take the advice of a foot masseuse too seriously.
I disagree with borofergie.
First, some minimalist shoes come with arch support. the point of minimalist shoes is to enable cross-foot movement.
Second, the Nike Pegasus is a neutral moderate cushioned shoe. There is no motion control on the shoe, there is a crash pad, and a stability bar, but those are very different. Here's how nike describes their shoe:
This neutral shoe has a light, forgiving midsole that soaks up miles and keeps legs well protected from the hard ground.
That being said I agree with his recommendation for the Nike Free, especially for speed walking. The Free is one of the minimalist shoes that still has fairly significant heel padding so speed walkers (who strike in the heel) will benefit.
Finally, I would suggest that you stick with your current shoes if you are not feeling any pain. A friend who massages your arches is not necessarily an expert on foot ware. If you are not in pain, then your shoes are doing their job -- That is, if it's not broke don't fix it. If you are feeling pain, then get your feet checked out by a specialist. Find out if you pronate, supinate, have high or low arches, etc. and get a pair of shoes that work for you.
The sesamoid pain is likely due to the shifting of the sesamoid bones into an unnatural position under the ball of the big toe, caused by conventional shoes that have a narrow toe box. This will push the big toe inward and that will shift the sesamoid bones so that the medial one is under the head of the metatarsal bone (big middle bone) of the big toe, instead of being on the side of it. Then you will walk on top of the small sesamiod bone and that hurts. The sesamoids are small bones in the tendons of the big toe and are supposed to be under the sides of the big joint of the big toe, not under the joint.
Here is a picture showing you a bad position of the sesamoids (note, you do not have to have a bunion in order for the sesamoids to be in this position, tight shoes will do this on their own): http://www.foothealthfacts.org/uploadedImages/FootHealthFactscom/Foot_an_Ankle_Conditions/English/Bunion.jpg
Here is what it should look like (note how the long bones of the big toe are in a straight line and not bent from a tight fitting shoe):
I would recommend buying minimalist shoes, with minimal to no arch support, very thin soles (to enhance proprioception) and a wide toebox. I am currently wearing these shoes: http://www.lafootprint.com/new-balance-wt10bp/
They are very good for walking. I should have bought them wider though. They come in a range of widths.
I recommend New Balance barefoot shoes and Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot.
i live in nyc and do a lot of brisk city walking (we're always in a rush, or just trying to get away from the tourists :), but i also do quite a bit of hiking / trails during the weekends (weather permitting). I also go to the gym (mostly lifting but some sprinting / rowing) 2-4 times a week.
i wear merrells or inov-8s for all of the above. love them.
over the years i've transitioned to their "bare" platforms (started out with some support, as i have "flat feet") and i'm never going back to clunky herman munster sneakers.
i find that their lightness and ventilation are huge pluses on long hikes btw. also work great for the gym, particularly for heavy lifts (e.g. squats) ... and i don't have to factor in their weight for the weighted pull-ups! (j/k)
the best thing you can do is to try on the different shoes (bare to support) and see what would work best for you now, then transition - if you'd like - like i did. btw, the brands i told you above are are carried by zappos if you're in the usa (which has great customer service in that it allows you to ship them back and forth - read the conditions - as you search for the right fit, akin to being in a shoe store).
btw ... i do not work for merrell or inov8 or zappos. haha
I think you'll want to get to the point where you can wear a minimalist shoe. There's enough research that I've read that I'm convinced that support and padding is bad not only for your feet, but your other joins get more abuse (knees and hips especially) when you don't have that close feedback with the ground.
However, going from normal footwear to a minimalist show may be too much of a change to do immediately. It may make sense to ramp down the padding and support slowly to give you time to physically adjust to it.
One shoe I really like is the Puma Drift Cat. It's a motorsports shoe, it's designed so that you can get really good grip and feedback on the pedals when you're driving. I just use it for my everyday shoe and I love it. It looks great and the sole is thin enough that I can feel like lines painted on the road. I've had mine for two years and they aren't even close to wearing out. However, they're kind of expensive. I found mine on clearance for $40 and was stoked, but I keep looking for replacements, and I never see them for less than $100 anymore. They're good enough that they are worth the price to me, but since I once got them so cheap, I'm trying to find them again that cheap.
I have a $20 "hack" for you if you want to try the feel of a minimalist shoe, and see if it is for you; with and without arch support.
Buy a pair of water shoes, make sure it is a well vented version if you are going to be walking a lot. (~$12)
Grab a pair of the Dr. Scholl's 3/4 length arch support springy shoe inserts. (~$8)
I am most comfortable now without the insert, but it helped with the transition. My feet and ankles used to get very sore in "well supported" shoes, but I now feel much more gazelle-like with less support under my arch.
I wear vivobarefoot neos. They are good lightweight shoes, that I enjoy walking in. I really love em, especially the thin sole, and extra toe room (I really love the wide toe space actually, its something ive always hated about shoes -having my toes cramped in). They are very high quality and durable shoes, and look stylish too. Being eco freindly and not made in a sweatshop is a nice bonus too.
But I am also quite curious about the ZEM 360 roundtoes for walking too. They look ultra-lightweight, like ninja thin shoes and I am not sure but seem to have very minimal heel (rounded, instead of the more common square/flat heel), which IMO would be good for walking (well regular walking anyway). Ive never worn a pair yet tho, so cant really comment fully there. Seems to be made of a kind wetsuit material of some kind.
Of the two, the ZEMs would be cheaper generally.
But for speed walking I dunno really. I am not sure if that motion resembles normal walking in terms of how your feet land at all.
With a normal walking, your heel gently rolls around to land the whole foot. With speed walking, you probably slam down your heel hard? If so, maybe a minimalist shoe isnt ideal, and the above suggestion of a nike free is the go? (with barefoot running you strike with the mid/forefoot, and barefoot walking its the heel roll, so you dont really need a heavy heel on your shoe normally)
And re:arch support - normally you wouldnt need it. The foot is better off without it. But for speedwalking? IDK...
I recently just purchased a pair of Under-Armour Defend shoes. They fit like a glove and are super light-weight. Literally the most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever owned. I have a size 14 and wide and they fit perfectly.
I made a fairly in depth post about minimalist shoes in this thread, but to summarize, they offer as little support or cushioning as possible (hence, 'minimal') in an attempt to force users to concentrate on form. The down side is that they do not come with an instruction manual, so people retro use them like regular shoes, and hurt themselves.
Running shifts the body's center mass forward, so striking on the fore or mid foot is possible. Walking maintains a more rearward posture, so heel striking is really the only natural option. This isn't bad because walking is lower impact than running. Moving to a shoe that offers no heel cushion will eventually lead to discomfort and/or injury, if you intend to walk for frequent and long sessions on hard ground.
As for arch support, it depends on your foot. Just like how there isn't one paleo diet that's right for everyone, there isn't one arch (or footwear) solution that's right for everyone. If your arches are high, and you are older than 40, I'd definitely consider looking into a support. The connective tissues that compose the arch stretch over time, and that will slowly drop (collapse) your arch. A collapsing arch changes the dynamics of your foot and thus the way you walk/run/stand. A support will slow or halt those changes.
Consider a support from SuperFeet. They have several models that vary the degree of arch support, so you can get the one that best matches your foot (I'm going to hazard a guess that you need the green one-- it has the highest arch). They retail at about $40, and offer a 30 money back guarantee. Running specialty shops should stock them.
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