Thursday, 27 January 2011

Why I Believe in Good Shoes (A Style Rebellion)

Image thanks to rubens lp

When I was sixteen, I fractured my spine. This resulted in me spending around six months regularly seeing a chiropractor, who basically told me that every pair of shoes I owned was inadequately supportive and bad for my back (and everything else).

Naturally, I didn’t listen, hell bent on maintaining my personal style above all else. She had given me some orthotic insoles and wearing those regularly was about as far as the change went. Then, several years later when I was around twenty, I was wearing my favourite pair of plastic boots, the heels of which had worn away to nothing but a treacherous slick. Of course, this was a recipe for disaster and I slipped on a marble floor and fell hard on my knee. I’ve had problems with it ever since.

If I needed any further encouragement to believe in good shoes – which I don’t – I might also consider my posture, and of course the health of my feet. When I spend a day walking in bad shoes, I feel it. I feel the dull ache in my knees; the crookedness of my posture; the twinge in my lower back – any of this sound familiar to you? I’m twenty-two and have a dodgy hip, what’s wrong with this picture?!

Not long ago Sarah Wilson discussed the same thing in her hunt for hot-but-sensible shoes, and I now feel strongly that the time has come for me to lay aside my vanity and prioritise my health. Good shoes may not always be sexy, but a body that’s working just like it should be, well, that so is. And, lucky for me, there are a whole host of people working on making good shoes look better. Here are just a few.

MBT

Okay, I’m not going to pretend these shoes go with a cocktail dress, or that they’re a cheap alternative to your regular sports shoes. They’re most definitely not either of those things, but they are great for your body. Here’s why:

The positive effect of the MBT is based on the principle of "natural instability". An effect which can, in fact, be achieved by simply walking barefoot on soft, uneven, natural ground such as sand. However, in today's thoroughly modern world this is not always easy to do. So we set out to develop a new kind of footwear, one that would mimic walking on soft, uneven ground. When walking in MBTs, the ground no longer feels flat and stable, so the body has to compensate and create stability.
My dad has worn MBT’s for a couple of years now, and while he doesn’t claim that they work miracles, he does find them comfortable, and I’ve certainly noticed more of a spring in his step! Find out more here.

OKA b

I found Oka b a while ago and thought they’d make a great affiliate for Charade for several reasons. One, for a big brand company they’re considerate of the environment. Two, they promote good-for-you shoes at très bon prix. Three, their shoes are genuinely cute (can you tell I’m a sucker for anything with a bow?)


OKA b. is founded on the principle that fashion and comfort should never be mutually exclusive. Imagine a shoe that not only looks great with every outfit but feels great with every step. A sandal given the thumbs up by your doctor and your best friend... A shoe that's 100% recyclable, waterproof, made in the USA and priced under $40. That's not only a shoe you'll love. That's a shoe that loves you.

Find a whole list of their benefits here (my favourite bits are their reflexology-inspired design and that they are vegan friendly!) They are also having a mega clearance sale, with up to 50% off and free shipping, so now’s the time to make the investment if you want to try them out.

Birkenstock

I think we just have to accept Birkenstocks for what they are: they’re never going to be the daintiest of shoes, but boy are they comfy. My main pair of sandals since last summer has been some strappy Birkenstock’s and I’ve really felt the difference. Their arch support is wholly superior to any other shoes I’ve worn, and they’re the only kind I don’t feel I need to wear my orthotic insoles with. Did you know the company is 200 years old? Me neither. 


High quality materials and unique construction give durable comfort and long lasting good looks. The concept of Birkenstock is easily understood when one considers the design of our feet and the mechanics of walking. Each contour in a Birkenstock footbed is precisely placed to stretch, flex and move naturally. Your feet benefit from free movement, constant exercise and improved circulation, resulting in long lasting comfort and better health.

Read more benefits of Birkenstock's here.

Earth Footwear

Earth have a lovely collection of cosy looking boots and strappy sandals. I’d never heard of them before researching this article, but the reviews I’ve been seeing all look really positive. I’ll let them explain how they work:

Negative Heel Technology works by positioning the toes slightly higher than the heels. This positioning is achieved by a 3.7 degree incline in the sole of the footwear and repositioning has unparalleled positive effects on the whole body. Similar to turning the incline up on a treadmill, Negative Heel Technology burn more calories with every step!


Buy them here or visit their main site for more info/ a sneak peek at their collection.

I couldn’t say which of these brands is best for you, as I’ve only seriously tried Birkenstock’s. Do consider a visit to the chiropractor if you regularly experience any of the niggling aches and pains I mentioned, and see what they have to say. And don’t forget that age old adage: prevention is better than cure, every time.

What do you say? Will you join the good shoes revolution?

6 comments:

The Irish Girl said...

This is the best article you have written in a long time. Well done. This is fantastic.

Kaitlyn said...

I love your suggestions! I've been a Birkenstock fanatic for years and am super excited to try out some footwear from Oka B. :)

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Very well-researched and presented article, thanks. Since earIy 1984 I have worn either Birkenstocks or Birk insoles in whatever non-birk pair I happened to be wearing of the “no more than four” pair at a time rule. No heels -- fractured spine at 18. Hiking boots, leather oxfords approved by USPS, Birk clogs....that’s all I have currently--oh, and a pair of white nurse’s Quarks which are the absolute lightest, a mere few ounces it feels like, enclosed shoes I have ever worn. I thought the box was empty when I took it from the delivery man !~!

Wearing good shoes has saved me some misery and pain; I began with flat (really flat) feet and knock-knees while still in diapers. Saw foot doc twice a year, every year, and had to wear orthopedic shoes until I refused during my mid-teens in So Florida and went for style for a change. Stupid idea and now I am once again wearing Good Shoes every day. Just like the nice man at the shoe rebuild shop said every six months while he did the doc’s Rx magic to my ugly olive green shoes. To boot, (haha) I have women’s size 12 feet now and they were 10’s before I was out of elementary school. Conspicuous anyone !?!?

crunicorn said...

I'm a total MBT convert but do think they are scarily expensive!! However, go to an MBT retailer and get properly fitted so you know what size you need to get then search eBay. The sizing on MBTs can be a bit odd so I highly recommend the fitting. Lots of people don't get on with MBTs so they often come up on eBay as virtually brand new for a fraction of the price - gotta love a bargain!

laura said...

what a great article! i've just thought about this yesterday... i personally don't wear heels or anything like that, but some of my shoes are so flat that i don't have any support at all. from now on, i will only buy comfortable shoes! i swear. (;

laura said...

oh, by the way: another great brand that makes "healthy, but pretty" shoes: think shoes (http://www.thinkshoes.com).

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