However, for people with arthritis or any medical condition that affects the feet, shoes need to be more about function than fashion. Too often, people sacrifice foot health for fashion. You may be hurting more than just your feet by doing that. There can be consequences for other joints, such as your ankles, knees, and hips.
Function Before Fashion When Buying Shoes
Foot problems are a common health concern. With 26 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments, plus tendons, nerves, and blood vessels in each foot, it's not difficult to see why feet deserve to be pampered and must be taken seriously.
The common foot conditions -- flat foot (pronation), high arched foot (supination), bunions, corns, calluses, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, spurs -- deserve consideration when you choose your shoes. Your footwear should be comfortable and be a good match for the natural shape of your foot. The shoes should provide adequate support, grip the heel so you aren't inclined to walk out of the shoe, have shock-absorbing insoles or built-in orthotics, have a non-slip sole, and a toe box wide enough to accomodate your toes comfortably. Ideally, when the shoes are on your feet, the bend in the shoe should line up with the bend in your big toe, the heel should feel stable rather than sloppy, and there should be no stressful points of contact between your foot and the shoe.
Orthaheel Shoes Combine Fashion and Function
While everything I have said to this point seems logical, it's still hard to put function ahead of fashion, isn't it? Together, Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., a recognized expert in alternative and complementary medicine and Phillip Vasyli, an Australian podiatrist and the founder of Orthaheel technology, have created a line of footwear (shoes, sandals, and slippers) that allow you to have both. Their collaboration has merged fashion with function.
The Weil Integrative Footwear collection has built-in AMS (Aided Motion System) technology which consists of Tri-Planar Motion Control to help control rearfoot alignment and function and 1st Ray Flexor Zone for forefoot mobility and an improved gait.
My Orthaheel Experience
I have two different styles of Orthaheel shoes. One is a Mary Jane style, called the Arcadia, and the other is a lace-up walking shoe, the Balance II. My first impression of Orthaheel shoes, before I put them on my feet, was that they seemed somewhat rigid. I honestly doubted they would be comfortable but decided to give them a chance to impress me -- and they did!
As I slipped them on my feet the first time, it became apparent why they had seemed stiff or rigid. Orthaheel shoes are designed to keep your feet in a healthy position and to reduce pronation. As I began walking in them, I could tell instantly that Orthaheel shoes offer more support than any other shoe I've worn. They felt different -- in a good way.
It takes a little time to adjust to the extra support but once you do, you begin to feel an improvement in your gait and strength in your stride. The best analogy I can offer would be how differently you feel when you sit up straight versus when you slouch. Proper position enhances your strength and energy.
To allow for the snug fit, I ordered a half size larger and that satisfied any concerns I initially had about the fit. Some people may wish an option existed for shoe width, but there is only medium width available.
The price range for Orthaheel shoes is between $89.95 and $129.95. I believe you would find any comparable shoe in that same price range. The choice between function and fashion no longer needs to be made. You can have both. Treat your feet!