How orthopedic shoes can help you live a healthier lifestyle
If I only had a dollar for every time I was told to exercise more often, drink more water, get more sleep, eat healthier and have more me time... I’d be Oprah!
While a healthy and active lifestyle is a goal many share, the busier our lives get and the older we get the harder it becomes. As parents, carers, workers and business owners we’re constantly on the move. Whether it’s taking care of family, daily tasks or keeping up a social life, we’re on our feet for longer and we’re feeling more aches and pains because of it.
So, how can we live healthier and become the best version of ourselves when we have all these responsibilities and time pressures? Is the answer really counting calories and power napping! Or is there an easier way?
The good news is there is an easier way. In this article we’ll share insights and practical tips from our 120 years of experience designing innovative health products to help get you moving in comfort and pain free.
Let’s get you moving and loving every step.
- How to make staying active effortless
- Health & wellbeing starts with healthy feet
- Nutrition, movement and your feet
- Orthotic friendly shoes vs the average shoe
- Common foot conditions, causes and treatments
- What is an orthotic insert
- What is an orthopedic shoe
- How to choose the right healthy footwear
- Scholl orthaheel, orthotic footwear & orthopedic shoes
- Orthotic shoes vs custom orthotics
How to make staying active effortless
The secret to an active lifestyle is building it into your daily routine and being mindful of your goal. But how do you find easy ways to move more often, I hear you ask? Here’s our step-by-step guide to active living made easy:
5 easy steps to living a more active lifestyle:
Step 1. Write down the activities you enjoy and do often
Seeing these activities on paper will motivate you so give yourself ample time to do this e.g. lunchtime walks, dog walking, walk to the coffee shop, shopping with friends, playing with kids
Step 2. Breakdown each activity to find the best bits
By extending or tweaking the good bits you’ll be moving for longer without even noticing it e.g. if playing with kids, find games that you can play longer and get better at, like hide and seek
Step 3. Find a goal and be mindful of it
A personal reason, realistic expectations and positive attitude will help you stay on track. e.g. allocate 5 minutes to remind yourself of your goal.
Step 4. Get motivated and act
Finding triggers and acting on them quickly (i.e. the 5 second rule) is the secret to getting motivated and acting e.g. set recurring calendar reminders and invite friends or co-workers to go walking on days
Step 5. Make sure you’re setup to succeed.
Being comfortable is essential to staying active for longer so make sure you’re prepared and organised e.g. allocate time for activities, wear the right shoes, and stay positive and motivated.
This is why the right shoes for your feet are vitally important. The right shoes designed for your feet, that are suitable for the activity you’ll be doing will help you feel more comfortable, reduce pain and assist biomechanical function and musculoskeletal health. The wrong shoes on the other hand (pardon the pun) will likely cause discomfort and may even lead to chronic pain and other foot conditions.
How to choose the right shoe for your feet
When looking for the right shoes to keep you moving at your best, it’s important to take into account your age, health and lifestyle goals. Choose shoes that fit well, have a low, broad and supportive heel, a flexible sole with good arch support, and firmly strap-in the foot. Avoid poor fitting, short or narrow shoes which can lead to many common foot conditions and injuries.
|Activity||Shoe type||Important things to consider|
|Walking||Active, Trainers, Runners||Foot conditions, injury management or prevention|
|Everyday||Casual, Sandals, Scuffs, Slides||Comfort, corrective alignment and posture|
|Work||Work, Boots, Wedges, Heels||Comfort, light-weight, cushioning and padding|
|Leisure||Thongs, Slippers,||Convenience, comfort, relief, recovery|
Supportive shoes help by providing natural therapeutic relief for your feet, legs and back. If you’re not sure which shoes might be best for your specific needs, seek advice from a trained medical practitioner. Alternatively, for more information about Scholl’s range of healthy footwear, check out our FAQs.
We all know regular exercise helps us feel great and adds years to our lives but did you know that walking just 30min a day can reduce the risk of depression by up to 26%. Let’s take a look at how healthier footwear that gets you moving also improves your wellbeing.
Australia is one of the happiest countries in the world, the 11th happiest in fact. But while we’re happy and generally healthy, are we really taking care of our bodies and our well-being?
As we age our bodies and priorities change, our focus shifts to providing for our families, increasing our stress levels. As a result we forget about our own wellbeing. Symptoms associated with stress manifest and we end up getting headaches or other physical pains.
Luckily, one of the easiest ways to lower our stress levels is to reduce pain associated with poor biomechanics. Stress causes muscle fatigue which can lower our pain threshold, often exposing poor biomechanical function in areas like the feet, legs and lower back. . Improved biomechanics makes moving easier, promoting brain activity and the release of endorphins (those hormones that make us feel confident, calm and in-control). A foot massage is a good way to start but for long term relief find the best supportive shoes.
By focusing on your foot health and the things that really matter in life - like spending time with family, ticking jobs off the to do list, and catching up with friends - you’ll feel more satisfied and energised.
- Do 5 minutes of controlled breathing daily to heal your body
- Do 10 minutes of foot exercises regularly to strengthen your feet
- Do 15 minutes of quality me time doing anything you want
- Talk about what’s stressing you and asking for help
- Challenge yourself to learn something new (like yoga)
- Join a social group, like the Heart Foundation Walking Group
- Join a yoga class
Yoga is the perfect balance of breathing and movement and there are classes and styles to suit older and younger adults. It’s also proven to relieve stress and anxiety, reduce inflammation and chronic pain, improve sleep and eating habits, and boost overall mood. What’s not to love.
Nutrition for easier movement
They say ‘you are what you eat’ but what does this mean when it comes to our bodies ability to move?
If we think about what our bodies need to be healthy and functional, the food you eat should reflect how you want your body to move. For those dealing with chronic pain and inflammation, which often leads to other common foot conditions, eating a whole and natural diet like the mediterranian diet should be your goal. It includes many anti-inflammatory foods that have been proven to strengthen bones, help maintain healthy weight, decrease heart disease and improve life expectancy. To reduce joint pain eat a diet rich in fish oil, cruciferous vegetables i.e. broccoli, kale, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, radish), and spices like ginger and tumeric. Depending on your unique needs it’s important to find an eating plan that works best for you.
How to make eating healthy easy
Jumping from one diet to the next is unsustainable and can be challenging when it comes to our families. Find what works for you and you’ll soon be feeling and moving better than ever. Here are 5 simple ways you can start eating healthy without sacrificing the family’s meal time:
- Balance what’s on your plate, 50% grains and protein + 50% veggies is ideal
- Eat lots of nutrient dense foods (you probably eat a lot of these already)
- Be conscious of stress, comfort eating and overeating
- Aim to eat about 2000 calories per day (for the diehards)
- Limit your sugar and saturated fat intake
"A lot of chronic pain is the result of chronic inflammation, and the evidence is quite strong that your diet can contribute to increased systemic inflammation. But your diet is also one of the best ways to reduce it."
What you eat may be restricting your bodies ability to move so have a think about your diet and any foot pain that may be contributing to how you move.
How common is foot pain?
Nearly half of all Australian’s wake up every week with some form of heel, arch or foot pain, according to a 2017 podiatry study into healthy feet.
Most don’t recognise this pain as shoe related but it affects people of all ages. Addressing these niggling issues or injuries however is important as ignoring them can lead to many short and long term problems, including illness and disease. Feeling healthier and happier starts with prioritising your foot health, before getting those steps done. So when you’re next shopping for footwear to keep you at your best,it is paramount to buy shoes that:
- Fit well and are built for purpose (i.e. the activity or condition)
- Support the heel, arch and toes
- Support correct biomechanical function
Orthotic Friendly Shoes vs The Average Shoe
So how important is footwear for keeping those toes twinkling?
Our feet are an amazingly complicated work of art. Each of our feet consist of 26 bones, 33 joints, over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, and lots of nerves, blood vessels and skin. All operating in perfect unison to keep us balanced and moving efficiently. With the average adult walking between 8000-10,000 steps every day, it’s easy to see how poor choice in footwear can add up to a lot of pain.
It’s important to consider the following structural component when selecting shoes to help ensure correct foot and biomechanical functioning:
- Insoles are the foundation of a shoe - provide stability (depending on firmness)
- Midsoles are the middle section of insoles - provide comfort and shock absorption
- Outsoles are the part that touches the ground - provide traction and durability
- Toe boxes are the area toes fit into - provide room to bend and flex properly
- Vamps are the upper of the shoe - provide a comfortable fit and reduced heel slippage
The Average Shoe
The average shoe typically features a soft flat insole, which leads to inadequate support and poor foot function. The shallow footbed in most shoes also makes inserting orthotics difficult and is not recommended. Like a building’s foundations, your feet are your body’s natural foundations, providing structural integrity and ensuring correct functioning.
Orthotic Friendly Shoes
Orthotic friendly shoes are designed to provide the foundations for optimal foot function. They feature fitted orthotic insoles to supportive natural foot motion, a deeper heel cup for improved stability, a midsole for better shock absorption, and high grade materials for improved comfort and durability. Beyond stopping foot and joint pains, orthotic friendly shoes help improve the bodies natural alignment leading to better mobility, health and wellbeing.
Common foot conditions, causes and treatments
Your feet are the first part of your body to experience the impact of walking, standing and running. The impact of these forces are distributed across your feet, placing stress and strain on other parts of your body. Some of the common conditions and structural effects of this include:
Your Plantar Fascia runs across the bottom of the foot connecting the heel bone to the toes. When the foot’s arch flattens the plantar fascia stretches and becomes inflamed causing severe pain in the heel. Walking and running in poor footwear is the most commonly cause of repetitive strain to the ligament. Orthopedic shoes that fit well, and support the heel and arch can help treat and relief plantar fasciitis. However regular foot exercises, physical therapy or further medical advice should be considered given your condition and any fitness goals.
Joint pain is any physical discomfort associated with where two or more bones meet to form a joint such as ankles, knees and hips. This may be caused by the overuse of joints, heavy physical activity, sprains and strains or nutritional deficiencies. Good orthotics shoes can assist in realigning the body and reducing pressure on joints, however this should be combined with good healthy eating including upping vitamin D levels for good bone health.
Discomfort on the back of or under the heel can make walking difficult or uncomfortable. Common causes are poor fitting shoes, wearing high heels, previous injuries or prolonged periods on your feet. Applying cold packs, anti-inflammatories and pain-killers can help ease heel pain but rest and orthopedic shoes that support your heels are recommended as a long term solution.
This common foot condition occurs when an imbalance of the surrounding muscles, tendons or ligaments causes a toe to bend abnormally in the middle joint. The primary cause of Hammer Toe is wearing ill-fitting shoes, like heels that are too-short and too-narrow. Comfortable work shoes for women with a mid-heel and wider toe box can help treat hammer toe.
Bunions are commonly inherited but can develop as a result of injury or other medical conditions such as arthritis. Narrow, tight fitting shoes can place excessive stress on the foot exacerbating this condition. Buying shoes that fit well is the best way to treat bunions however medical advice should be considered if associated with strong pain.
Claw toe (or claw foot) occurs when the toe joints cause a curl, first pointing up and then down. It can be painful but may also be associated with other chronic conditions such as arthritis or diabetes. Good orthotic shoes that distribute weight across the ball of the foot and incorporate a roomy, soft toe can help. Importantly, seek medical advice if you believe you suffer chronic pain.
Flat foot occurs as a result of fallen arches. This condition is normal in infants but typically disappears as toddlers ligaments and tendons tighten. The condition can continue into adulthood however it is mostly caused by injuries or illness in later life. Stretching the foot regularly and wearing orthotic shoes that support arches are the best way to treat flat feet.
Lower back pain
Lower back pain is mostly associated with pronated feet and ankles, which can affect the alignment of feet and body leading to pain in the lower back. Walking and standing while out of alignment can also contribute to other aches and pains in the lower limbs. Good quality orthotic shoes that support correct alignment can help treat lower back pain. Seek medical help for posture assessment or any other potential causes of discomfort.
Standing all day and sitting for long periods of time can lead to poor posture. When posture is poor, certain muscles tighten and shorten, while others lengthen and become weak causing the imbalance and stress on joints. This is often felt in the legs, back and shoulders. Living a more active lifestyle can help improve posture. A good high quality orthopedic shoe can get you started but regular activity like yoga and pilates are ideal for a healthy posture.
Importantly, mistaking these problems as old injuries or age related when they can be directly associated with poor alignment means you may be making the issue worse unnecessarily and unknowingly. It is important to address any alignment related issues as early as possible to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
How to improve alignment and reduce pain
Our bodies natural alignment evolved over millions of years, walking and running on natural terrain like sand and soil. For most of us however cement sidewalks and shopping centres floors are by far the most common surfaces that our feet experience. These unnaturally hard and flat surfaces may exacerbate existing issues and can also cause our feet to flatten over time.
Up to 70% of the population typically over-pronate. This occurs as a result of fallen arches which cause the foot to twist outward, rolling our feet, knees and hips inwards. As our bodies try to compensate this leads to us popping everything out of alignment, adding pressure on all of our joints.
Pronation, Under-pronation and Overpronation
Correct pronation refers to your foot’s natural motion when in alignment. This process starts when the middle of the heel strikes the ground first, with your arch flexing to manage weight transference from your heels to the ball of your foot.Our two biggest toes then push us off the ground to provide forward momentum as the rest of your toes assist you to balance.
Under-pronation or Supination occurs when the arch of your foot is overly stiff and causes the foot and ankle to roll outward. The process starts with the outside of the heel striking the ground, with the outer-edge of the foot and our-toes bearing most of the impact and strain. The stiff arch and motion causes the sole of the foot to face inward as a result. This condition can lead to plantar fasciitis, shin splints, ankle strains and sprains including complete ruptures. To improve alignment caused by supination buy well-cushioned shoes and try to stretch your calf and achilles muscles regularly.
Over-pronation occurs when your foot and ankle rolls inward as a result of your foot flattening when making contact with ground. The process starts with the inside of the heel making contact with the ground first. The sole of the foot faces outward and the bigger toes are forced to work harder as a result. This condition can lead to toe strain, bunions, heel spurs, shin splints, plantar fasciitis. To improve alignment caused by overpronation the right shoe choice is important. Supportive shoes for walking are essential but regular stretching of the toes, massaging the arch and heel can help encourage proper function.
Depending on your gait and foot’s motion you may be able to identify and fix your bodies alignment by simply wearing the right shoes. You can identify if you over or under pronate by checking out a pair of old walking or running heel shoes i.e. if the inside of the heel is worn down you maybe over-pronating and benefit from a healthier shoes choice.
If you’re experiencing pain or similar symptoms it’s likely your lifestyle is suffering. Locate a Scholl Footwear stockist near you to find the right shoe for you.
What is an Orthotic insert?
An orthotic insert is a removable inner sole for your shoe designed to place the foot in a neutral position and support the arch, encouraging natural foot, legs and gait motion. Inserts are normally constructed of durable, light-weight, shock absorbing materials to support correct functioning and provide comfort and pain relief for various ailments and conditions.
What is an Orthopedic shoe?
Orthopedic shoes support the complete structure and mechanics of the foot, ankle and leg, helping to realign your body, improving your posture and overall mobility. Deeper supportive heels, flex points and uppers, ease pain, prevent and alleviate other symptoms and issues.
Scholl’s range of Orthotic footwear & Orthopedic shoes
Scholl’s range of fashionable orthopedic shoes for men and women feature Orthaheel technology. These ergonomically contoured footbeds provide optimal arch support, heel stability and cushioning of forefoot to help create the perfect conditions for corrective realignment. With impact zones for your heels and a flex zone for the ball of the foot, Scholl shoes reduce pressure on toes allowing you to move more freely.
Our full range of affordable orthopedic shoes incorporate high grade materials, from leather and PU (polyurethane) uppers, to EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) insoles and midsoles, and durable rubber outsoles. The convenience of our various styles featuring built-in and removable insoles also helps make choosing the right shoe easier than ever.
Our Sandals and Thongs feature Scholl Orthaheel technology built directly into the sole while our closed-in styles are created with a removable orthotic, allowing additional depth to fit a custom orthotic – an important tip to remember when buying shoes as the average shoe wouldn’t be deep enough to support you in an orthotic.
To get a little technical, our tri-plantar motion control also helps you achieve neutral alignment across all three planes of your body’s natural range of motion.
Scholl Orthaheel technology is available across our range of Casual, Active and Work shoes, Boots, Scuffs and Slippers, and is built directly into the soles of our famously comfortable orthotic Sandals and Thongs. Scholl’s advanced production methods improve durability and flexibility, resulting in a more comfortable fit and footbed, helping put the spring back in your step.
Orthotic shoes and custom orthotics
Choosing appropriate shoes when you have custom orthotics is tough, most brands do not allow for the extra thickness to insert an orthotic in the shoe. Many find themselves slipping out of the heal and not getting the desired relief as a result. Specialist orthopedic footwear and athletic shoe stores may be able to assist in identifying common symptoms that may require or benefit from orthotics. Visiting stores in the afternoon when your feet are more likely to be a little swollen can help make sure you get the best fit and corrective outcome.
If you haven’t worn orthotics before, they may feel a little foreign as your foot is not used to the arch support but as you walk in them, this will adjust and they become more comfortable. The more you wear them, the more benefit you will get. Look for shoes that have great adjustability, straps on sandals, heel depth in thongs, a good quality, firm but padded heal counter – as this plays a vital role in providing shape and structure to the shoe and supporting your alignment. Ultimately, the better your foot is held in the shoe the greater the corrective benefit.