Did COVID-19 make our feet remarkably healthy?
The negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will linger long after the virus comes under control. Stress, division, grief, and loss of life in historical proportions will leave a deep scar on our social conscious. Paradoxically, the pandemic has also had some unexpected health benefits for some who escaped the worst aspects of the virus. Awareness and renewed respect for handwashing & personal hygiene helped lower susceptibility not only to the COVID-19 virus but the flu and colds. Pollution levels dropped. And most unexpectedly, our feet thrived.
As shoemakers of minimalist shoes – the USA-based company Softstar Shoes is experiencing a sharp increase of phone calls from customers returning to work and seeking a new alternative to footwear. COVID-19 meant fewer occasions for high heels, tight dress shoes, or structured footwear… rather an increase in time spent in socks, slippers or barefoot emerged at levels not seen since childhood. Returning to “normal” shoes has made many aware of the stark contrast of happy vs. constricted feet, as well as the impact foot health, has on our overall well-being.
Softstar CEO Tricia Salcido states, Many customers tell us they noticed their feet changed during the pandemic. Shoes that previously fit well are now too tight, too short, and too painful to wear. Toes are defiant, calf muscles are complaining and heels are aching after being forced back into shoes their owners had kicked to the back of the closet a year ago.
Shoes hold such an important cultural value in our public lives. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that pain is an acceptable side effect of fashionable footwear, but health experts encourage you to listen to what your feet are telling you. Minimal footwear designs provide an easy avenue for you to do exactly this: listen to your body and get feedback from your soles. People are challenging the notion that their feet have to return to the painful “foot coffins” and are searching for more natural, barefoot-like designs that allow their foot muscles to flex freely.
Fortunately, there are many healthy designs to choose from which can blend seamlessly into the workplace. Softstar is but one of many minimal footwear companies focused on designing shoes that mimic the way nature intended your feet to move. Before you lose yourself in the post-pandemic return to normal, consider preserving the remarkable feats of recovery your feet may have made by investing in a new pair of minimalist shoes.
Footwear that promotes natural, barefoot function should have these qualities:
- Flexibility. Avoid shoes that force your feet to be held in rigid positions. Instead, look for shoes with pliable soles and upper materials that follow your movement when you bend and flex. Shoes should take the shape of your foot, not the other way around.
- Plenty of room for your toes. Footwear that squeezes your toes together inhibits your natural stride and balance. Your toes should spread easily while moving through your motions.
- Zero Drop Soles. Soles that are zero-drop are the same thickness from toe to heel, meaning they do not get thicker at the heel or at any other part of the shoe.
- Breathable and Non-Toxic. The materials used to make your shoes can also impact your health. Feet can absorb chemicals transdermally (through contact with skin). Adding the pressure, friction, warmth and perspiration native to footwear can lead to a chemical soup being absorbed through your soles. Look for shoes that are naturally breathable and made from quality, natural materials.
Softstar designs & crafts leather footwear in Oregon, USA. Their footwear has been made with responsibly sourced materials and healthy minimalist designs since 1985.