Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fighting the Shoe Event Horizon

I've been needing some new shoes for a while now. In town yesterday, our route took us to the cycle shop, which took us past the running shop I bought my jogging trainers in. We figured that, tho they're a running shop, they might have something suitable for general walking as well, so in we went.

If you really want running shoes designed for serious runners, you should of course disdain utterly the high-street 'sports' shops and the Nike and Reebok style of trainer. These are fashion items, not sport equipment - kinda like an iPod is never going to replace an audiophile's roomful of hifi equipment, no matter how cool & fashionable it may be.

The diference is apparent from the moment you enter the store - somebody trying to sell you Nikes will ask your shoe size, hand you the requested items, tell you they look great & are really popular, and sell you whatever is comfy enough to part you with the ripoff price.

However, in the running shop, they want you to take off your shoes & socks so they can examine your feet, the way you stand, how you walk, and so on. Then they point you at the 3-4 types of shoe they sell that are appropriate for you, taking into account your foot's shape, your posture, how you spread the load over your soles, and so forth.

Then they make you try it on in multiple sizes, which they (unlike any other high street store) have in half- as well as whole-size numbers. My jogging shoes, for instance, are 10.5s, whereas I generally wear 11s for other footwear.

So I bought some jogging shoes there a while back, since when I've had absolute zero issues with knee pain. So I had a fair amount of faith in their being able to supply me with some shoes that are better than my current ones, which in fact cause me such problems that I can't wear them any more.

I can feel you thinking "This seems a lot of effort to get some comfy shoes. And how can ordinary walking shoes cause problems, anyway? Isn't he just wasting time & money on gimmicks?"

And the answer is, no.

This time last year, I was quite literally half-crippled from RSI. To the point I was close to quitting my job because I was spending 8 hours a day in agony, despite wrist supports, painkillers and an ergonomic chair. Today, I'm so much better that I can keep a blog without pause for thought.

The difference? A book I was referred to by an offchance comment ("I'm a physiotherapist, and it was a revelation to me!" is a high commendation in my book). I bought it for Lou, who has had severe shoulder pain for over a decade - I used to spend 15 minutes massaging it before it had relaxed enough to actually move under my fingers.

She started the excercises, and was nearly bedridden for a day - the rock-hard muscle that had been unremittingly tense for years letting go suddenly relaxed her entire body so much she could barely move. She advised me to try it myself, and the following Saturday, I started the excercises it advised for wrist RSI.

On the following Monday, I went to work and threw my wrist supports in the drawer. I've never used them since. I get an occasional twinge now & then, but chronic pain is a thing of the past. The reason? My posture was very bad, and leading to RSI. It's still not completely fixed, but it's getting there.

And (to return to my point) your entire posture affects, and is affected by, your feet. If your feet are badly placed, everything above them is thrown out of alignment to compensate.

Put shoes that don't offer the right support on the feet of somebody whose posture was so badly aligned it nearly disabled him, and trust me, he'll notice the problems PDQ. My old shoes were giving me headaches and serious foot pain. The only shoes that didn't were my jogging shoes. But they're very thin & lightweight, not what you want for cold, wet, muddy winter days. I wanted something more sturdy & protective. And comfortable.

So in to the shop we went & explained this. No need for all the foot- and posture-studiying this time, he took a glance at my jogging shoes and knew exactly what feet they would fit, so that saved a bit of time. They only had two shoes that fitted me that were of a winter type, so I tried those. First the blue in size 11 (my usual size), but they were too large.

So he got out the blue in 10.5 (my trainer size), but they were a tad too large still, and too lightweight for my taste

So I tried on the brown, which were more sturdy but only in a size 10, and they fit great. So I bought them.

The HHGttG states that there's a problem with shoeshops: As you get more of them, you need people to buy more shoes to support them. So shoes are made more fashionable & less sturdy so buyers need to replace them more. And the more they buy, the shoddier they become, so the more shoeshops are needed - a vicious cycle, that lasts until the Shoe Event Horizon is passed, and it's economically impossible to be anything other than a shoeshop.

I bought some brown shoes that are very good quality and utterly unfashionable, so I like to think I've done my bit to stave it off ;o)


Post a Comment

<< Home