As the Director of First Impressions, here at Northwest Foot & Ankle and Correct Toes, I specialize in supporting patients and customers throughout their journey toward foot health. Over the past eight months, as I’ve personally gone through the transition to a more natural approach and continue to assist others in their journey, a few key points stick out that I would like to share!
1) Most of our shoes are the wrong size (and we are falsely married to that number)
After my first day of training, here at NWFA & Correct Toes, I immediately went home and analyzed my entire shoe collection. I quickly realized that not only were all of my shoes too narrow (not surprising), but after doing the infamous Liner Test on those good-ol’ Nikes I’d been wearing for the past 3 years, I realized they were also too short (very surprising!). Apparently, I had been glued to wearing a size 9 without even blinking an eye. I quickly learned that I was not alone!
All-too-often, when fitting people for shoes, they confidently tell me they are a specific size. I use this number as a good starting-point, but nine times out of ten the customer ends up purchasing a much larger shoe than what they typically purchase. This is why I invite everyone to end the long-term relationship they have with a “number”, and start opening their eyes to the possibility of different a size!
Now, nearly seven months later, the photo on the right (below) shows my current toe spread on that same Nike liner. You can barely even see it underneath my feet! No wonder my 4th and 5th toes were not only squeezed inward, but also starting to curl down – they were beginning to look like these shoes!
2) Obtaining properly-fitting foot-healthy shoes is not easy!
Every time I walk past a Payless Shoes, I consciously look the other way. It’s now become way too difficult to face the fact that I cannot simply walk in and purchase the first pair of cute shoes, cheap boots or ballet flats I see! Obtaining foot-healthy shoes often involves online shopping, sometimes size exchanges and often a good amount of money.
Due to the lack of foot-healthy shoes in the shoe industry, this is the unfortunate reality for purchasing foot-shaped shoes. I empathize with all our patients and customers on how difficult this process is! The good news? Your feet will feel better than ever, and that will be your motivation to continue the quest for a foot-healthy shoe collection (or at least 1 solid pair to wear everywhere!)
Shoes shown in photo to the right
Top row (left to right):
• Lems Mariner (Walnut)
• UGG Bailey Button (black)
• UGG Classic Short (grey)
• Lems Boulder Boot (brown)
Middle row (left to right):
• Lems Primal 2 (Shade)
• Know Obstacles Precision “The Pres”
• Lems Primal 2 (Black)
• Altra Superior 2.0 (grey/yellow)
Bottom row (left to right):
• OTZ Semis (brown)[discontinued]
• OTZ Semis (black) [discontinued]
• Lems Mariner (Sonora)
• Olukai Nohea Moku (black/black)[worn without liner]
3) My feet are wide and wonderful
As a former mental health therapist, I think a lot about the psychological components associated with the transition to foot-healthy shoes, particularly with women. Our culture strongly values appearance, and all-too-often, we are consciously and unconsciously influenced by societal factors. In the shoe world, women feel indirect or direct pressure to have petite, narrow and perfectly manicured feet. Newsflash: not all of us have dainty Cinderella feet that fit size 6 glass slippers. I used to be embarrassed of my wide feet, and embarrassed by how they would wrinkle and hang over the edge of my shoes when I wore high heels or narrow ballet flats. My foot looked huge, and I felt un-pretty.
Once I started working at NWFA & Correct Toes, however, I quickly realized that my feet were not the problem – the shoes were! I started embracing my wide feet and finally feel that I am respecting my body and respecting the natural anatomy of my feet. I now appreciate my feet for all their positive characteristics. I have a strong base that helps me improve my athletic performance, overall balance and stability, which protects my legs and back from injury. Most of all, I feel much better – physically and mentally – when wearing shoes that actually accommodate my wide, wonderful and normal feet!