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I’m always asked for advice about what are the best shoes to wear for walking and running. This is such a controversial discussion that ranges from very supportive arches in shoes, to the new memory foam innersoles, to lightweight running shoes, to completely barefoot. I have to say that I lean towards the barefoot end of the spectrum or as close to it as possible for normal feet.

Back in the 90’s research showed that the introduction of supportive shoes for walking and running did not reduce the rate of injuries to the foot, ankle or knee. Injury rates continued to rise. Many books have hit the market on the barefoot running movement and they do hold a few truths. From the minute a child can walk we put them in shoes. Shoes prevent earthing (a change of electrical charge that exists with connection to the ground), can reduce natural mobility of the foot and can change walking dynamics in many cases.

Barefoot running is often not realistic in the big smoke. More often than not we are walking on concrete with sharp hazards. A rubber sole is so important to cushion and protect against this. However, the shoe industry is currently moving towards feather light sneakers and they are fantastic. The latest pair of Adidas I bought are made of neoprene (wetsuit material). The new designers are so comfortable super stylish and quite a fashion statement.

You do have to think … how much support do feet really need? The arch was designed to move, stretch and contract. Shoes were originally designed for protection of the feet only. Providing too much support in my opinion is like wearing a back brace. Wearing a back brace for too long can cause the abdominal to slacken as they are not needed. I feel the same happens in the foot. Too much support means the foot becomes in a sense ‘weakened’.

So go as light as you can. I always stress the need to slowly wean yourself into them as they feel very different if you’re used to bricks on your feet. If you have any injuries or are currently wearing orthotics its best to get  advice from your Physiotherapist about changing shoes to a lighter option.


Deborah Thomas

Physiotherapist/ Pilates Practitioner/ Educator


02 8458 2080


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