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Benefits and Types of Ergonomic Shoes

Monday, November 29, 2010
By Anne Kramer

While the concept of ergonomic shoes has been around for decades, one of the hottest topics in Ergonomics today is ergonomic shoes – and rightly so! The study of Ergonomics is concerned mainly with how our bodies, including our feet, interact with our workplace. In the modern office setting of course, very little time is spent on our feet, and we are able to address the concern of compensating for so much time in a chair with ergonomic footrests designed to (among other things) prevent blood clots and varicose veins. If an activity is performed while standing, walking, jogging, or running however, shoes make a BIG Ergonomic difference! The type of shoes you choose to wear while exercising, driving, and even grocery shopping, can make a big impact on your overall health.

All ergonomic shoes, or "ergo-shoes," regardless of design or manufacturer, are designed to simulate the natural condition of walking barefoot on soft ground, rather than with shoes, on concrete, as we so often find ourselves. The do this by distributing body weight evenly, restoring balance, and improving posture and overall spinal alignment. As a result, back tension and pain are relieved, and muscles throughout the body, generally toned.

This article is intended to serve as a brief overview of the general types of ergonomically-designed shoes, to help educate our readers about which shoes are designed for the activities in which they most often take part.

Rocker Bottom

Likely the most prominent design among modern ergo-shoes, the rocker bottom features a convex sole that promotes a "rocking" i.e. heel-to-toe motion while walking.

The shoe, at its ergonomic roots, is designed specifically for people who stand for a good portion of their day. The sole reduces pressure and improves spine alignment – two benefits which directly develop better posture. This is not to say the shoe should not be worn by people who plan to do a lot of walking; neither of these alterations will negatively affect your stride. It just means the shoe was designed for someone who does more standing than walking.

FitFlop

Though they look like regular flip-flops, the FitFlop, unlike traditional flip-flops, are great for walking.

By utilizing a technology that on a microscopic level, creates a sense of imbalance in the wearer, FitFlops promote the body’s natural ability to find balance. It happens that generally speaking, the body’s natural balance point is the correct one. Unfortunately, traditional shoes force us to balance in unnatural ways. By finding our natural center, we promote the body’s ability to walk for hours on end without causing discomfort or injury.

FitFlop technology is also available in a number of ordinary shoe designs.

Negative Heel

So called because they perform the opposite function of a traditional high heel shoe, the negative heel actually slopes upward toward the toes.

In a negative heel shoe, the toes are actually supported 3.7° higher than the heel, creating the feeling of walking on sand. By lowering the heel, the shoe promotes a calf stretch with each stride, which improves flexibility and tones the calf muscles.

The shoes work well to offset the negative effects of wearing high heels on a regular basis.

Ergonomic consideration does not end in the office! Do your body a favor and look into the ergo-shoes that best suit your daily life.




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