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Switch up your shoes for better posture

Published May 1, 2013 1:01 am

Health • When weightlifting, go for minimal cushion
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Spring is here, time to put away the bulky winter clothes and break out the bathing suits, shorts and shoes — flip-flops, sandals, gym shoes, hiking shoes, cycling shoes, waterproof shoes and the "I just can't bear to throw them away even though they are falling apart" shoes.

While that might seem like an excessive amount of shoes for a single season, more can actually be better for your feet in some instances.

In general, I take the minimalist approach when it comes to shoes — the less cushion and padding, the better.

The reason behind this — which also happens to be the source of the barefoot running rage — is our body has a hard time accounting for all the extra material between our feet and the ground. Shoes that have extra support or cushioning can cause an unnatural gait, which can lead to posture issues.

Women who regularly wear high heels also are at risk, as these "fashionable" shoes create the potential for back pain and debilitating foot pain.

Shoes with minimal support are becoming more and more common, not only in active styles but casual styles. I always recommend these for people who work out, particularly for weightlifting, because they give you a better feel of the ground. The last thing you want when performing any sort of power lift is to have clunky shoes affecting your posture or power transfer. It's an injury waiting to happen.

But if you aren't one for funky colors or sticking your toes into their own cute little compartments, then go by the old rule that variety is the spice of life.

This is where all those shoes come into play.

Rather than wear one pair on a consistent basis, switch them up as often as you can.

At least this way the cushioning and different styles, however subtle, will affect your body differently and hopefully you won't get into a bad pattern.

But you might want to avoid flip-flops. These slip-on shows may be the ultimate summer symbol, but they are some of the worst shoes when it comes to affecting posture.

Research by Auburn University showed walkers in flip-flops don't bring their toes up as much during the swing phase of the stride, leading to large ankle angles and shorter stride length.

This shortened action can lead to heel and lower leg pain.

Casual wear is fine, but don't forget about those tennis shoes in your closet, unless you need a reason to buy a pair of cute sandals with straps on them.

Lya Wodraska is a certified CHEK Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. E-mail her at Lwodraska@sltrib.com. Twitter: @LyaWodraska