Selecting footwear – Growth, development and day wear

As with all our posts, we try and give our readers a base at which to ‘better understand their feet’

Growth and development happen in stages, and its important that the foot is given the best change to develop properly.  A the same time, the adult foot must function as best as possible to avoid injury.  We have highlighted some important issues that are frequently discussed in advertising, media, and even medical texts and Journals.

We break it down to these simple processes –

  1. Natural walking/The natural state – The human body is designed to use the foot as an adaptive leaver.  We are also designed by nature to walk barefoot.  However, its not for everyone and not practical all the time in the modern world.   There are many academic texts describing the value of bare foot walking and running.   For sure we can realise the value in walking without footwear, as walking in the natural state no doubt conditions the muscles of the foot to function at optimum level.  Each parent must use their discretion as and when to apply shoes to their child and what type.   Squeezing the very young foot into enclosed rigid shoes could put your child at risk of normal foot development.  So it’s therefore essential that shoes fit the foot properly and are geometrically designed well to assist foot function, not reduce natural foot function.  And the discussion on walking bare foot is something one should discuss with their medical practitioner as each case is unique.


  1. Slippers – Often poorly designed for good foot function.   The closer they are to a padded pair of socks the better.  Why, slippers often lack support or are too hard on the base.  Therefore some slipper types may effect foot function (All ages).  If we think of the bare foot model, the foot is a self supporting structure where muscles act in synergy to preserve foot function and alignments, if we imagine jelly type shoes, the foot looses all stability, and often slippers can act a little like this, so we have to consider is the slipper helping or hindering our foot.   If you have any concerns, contact the retailer or designer.  Modern designs are improving the slipper generally.


  1. Barefoot running shoes.  Due to proprioception, barefoot running and barefoot “running shoes” are not the same thing.  We are not here to discuss whether one is better than the other.  We are a shoe wearing society so shoes/footwear are a part of life.   If you are going to place anything on your foot, seek the right advice from an informed place and discuss it with your retailer or even Podiatrist.


  1. Running trainers – a good set could be termed the ‘gold standard’ in footwear.  Why?  Running trainers are designed to allow your feet to run marathons and more without significant trauma or damage.  So if its good for running, then its usually great for walking.   There are some fantastic designs now offered by some of the long established running shoe companies.  However from a medical perspective we could say that you need to review the shoes you buy depending on your foot shape, foot type,  activity and the environment you are in.  Even how breathable the shoe is and whether it is natural material can be very important factors.


From the Podiatrists perspective.  Do what’s best for your feet.  Be aware and get educated on shoes and foot function.  That way we can help you make the choice you need for work, sport, holidays, and day to day footwear.  BP.

This article was written by Ruggero