Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Casual Work Shoes

Bernice Chiu, B.H.Kin
Pedorthist Assistant at Kintec: Footwear + Orthotics

I’m sure most people, if not all, want to look good at work. The workplace is where you have the most interactions with people. However, some jobs require extended hours of standing and walking, especially if we are in the service industry or sales. Those flats and heels may look adorable when you buy them, but after 9 hours of being on your feet, your body will rebel against you.

It is common knowledge that high heels are not good for you. Heels force your feet into a plantar flexed position and places a lot of pressure onto the forefoot. This position also causes the calf muscles to contract, which increases tension on heel. Most heels also have a narrow base, which increases the instability and causes unnecessary stress on your joints and soft tissue.

On the other hand, you may think that wearing flats instead of high heels is better for you. However, that might not be the case. Most flats lack structural support and can cause a lot of stress to the soft tissue and joints in your lower limbs. Some flats have nothing more than a rubber sole covering the bottom of your feet and thus lack cushion.

Another common issue is the toebox being too narrow and shallow. If the shoe is too tight across the widest portion of your feet, painful pressure points, blisters or calluses may form. Tight shoes can also lead to numbness or pain in the forefoot and toes. Sometimes prolonged pressure from footwear may even lead to foot deformities such as bunion formation.

Now considering all these issues, it does not mean that all your work shoes have to bulky runners and that you will never be able to wear something decent-looking ever again. Here are certain qualities you should look for in your footwear, regardless of their style.

  1. Strong shank: When you grab hold of both ends of the shoe and twist, you should not be able to wring it around like a towel. 
  2. Rigid heel cup: Squeeze the back of the shoe; the two sides should not collapse and touch each other.
  3. Flex point: Try bending a shoe in half length wise. It should only bend where your toes would bend and never in the middle or the back of the shoe.
  4. Higher vamp: also known as the instep, many times the top of shoes will cut off just after the toes which puts extra pressure on the ball of the feet as it bends. Shoes with higher vamps will be able to hold your feet more securely and provide more support.
  5. Adjustable upper: Such as laces or Velcro straps, this gives you the ability to tighten the footwear as needed compared to slip-ons which would loosen over time and results in more instability and heel movement inside the shoes.
  6. Suitable width: Some brands and shoes offer different widths. Make sure to look out for a suitable width so that there are no pressure spots across the widest part of your foot.

Some popular brands that pass these tests are Aravon and Clarks. At Kintec, you can find them in different widths and with removable liners so that an orthotic or insole can be placed inside. 

With this information you will no longer need to sacrifice fashion for comfort or vice versa.

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