Is The Comfort Offered By Slippers Worth Damaging Your Joints And Muscles? Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from Christophe Champs. Christophe Champs is a consultant in Podiatry and Biomechanics and the founder of PODO Clinic and Workshop. Christophe will be sharing the impact of slippers on our joints and muscles and whether or not we should wear them.
Is The Comfort Offered By Slippers Worth Damaging Your Joints And Muscles?
We all love to mooch around the house in our comfy slippers, but what are they doing to our joints and muscles? Sure, slippers are convenient—feet go in and out within seconds—but this doesn’t make them the healthiest form of footwear. Their shape is not supportive, and the materials they are made of are not reinforced.
Ideally, anything you have on your feet for an extended period should offer proper support and protection.
Providing your feet, which make up one-quarter of your skeleton, with minimal support can negatively affect your ageing body (however young you are).
Slippers can also contribute to falls. And as older and more vulnerable people are the number one users of slippers and the most at risk of a fall, it is not a great combination.
The more support your shoes can give you, the less unbalanced and unstable you will be. Therefore the less likely you are to slip, trip or fall. And this applies to any age group. So, choose a pair of comfy shoes for indoor wearing that offer support and use them as you would a comfortable pair of slippers.
Lessons From Lockdown
The lockdowns have shown us how dangerous slippers can be for our health.
In my experience, the number of people suffering joint pain has increased since the first lockdown. This is a direct result of people wearing unsupportive slippers at home for long periods while working.
When travelling to the office and working with other people, most wear shoes, not slippers, which help support and cushion our feet. But take this away and swap it for spending the entire day barefoot or with slippers on a hard floor. It is no surprise that joint and foot pain has increased.
Another change is the reduction in walking when working from home. When we walk (and I mean walk, not just take a few steps), we swing our arms, which helps to take some of the load off the feet. Walking puts around 80% off the load on your feet, whereas stepping in an enclosed space with no arm swing applies 120% of your body weight on your feet. In turn, this can result in increased joint and muscle pain.
With every step in slip-on shoes, your toes are forced to grasp the slipper, lift it off the ground, and carry it until your next step. This is because the footwear does not grab your heel. When the heel is secured within the shoe, it helps lift the entire shoe and carry it forward even as you bend your foot.
Your forefoot is beautifully designed to change direction and adapt to uneven surfaces. Still, this creative skill should never be overloaded or overused in the way it is with a slip-on slipper.
Those who spend much time on their toes or using them to grasp as they walk often develop toe deformities such as hammer toe and bunions. Plus, the skin under the ball of your foot, as an auto-defence, tends to build up. And it becomes hard to cope with the extra pressures applied to the area.
Slippers aren’t just bad for your feet – the impact can also be felt around the ankle and upwards to your knees, hip, back and even your neck.
Your ankles are your body’s most challenged and challenging joints because they connect two tiny horizontal feet with a tall and vertical body. Any time one of your ankles is unstable, every joint above is impacted.
Overlooking your ankle stability is like neglecting the first impression you’ll make when entering a room. Both will leave you with no second chance, and things could go wrong. An unstable ankle drags knees and hips down, inwards or outwards, depending on your body type.
I think orthotics are great for most people’s feet. But they are not enough for your ankle health without proper shoes and are nearly useless in a pair of slippers.
Orthotics and shoes work together. They are designed to be inside the shoe, which is one of the key reasons you should never try orthotics. Or insoles directly on the floor (i.e., not in the shoe) with the foot on top. The firmness of the shoe sole and the action of the laces or Velcro are both parts of the foot support that provides you with a better alignment, balance, and overall posture.
A pair of slippers with no heel or ankle support does not strap your foot. So the orthotics are not wrapped around your heels and arches. Therefore, if you tried to wear your orthotics in your slippers, you would miss out on this snug and pleasant feeling that reinforces the action of the orthotics and optimises their results. And, of course, if the slipper has no back, the orthotics will fall out!
Start by wearing supportive and lace-up shoes in the house. These should support, protect and cushion the foot. They should stay on the foot as you walk: no toe-curling. Remember, shoes are like glasses. They help only if you wear them and only if they fit you well. To address your asymmetry, which is common in most people, within your symmetrical shoes. Contact your local podiatrist to have your biomechanics checked and find out if you can benefit from custom orthotics. Save walking barefoot for sandy beaches or your fresh-mowed lawn, and slippers for putting your feet up in front of the TV.
In short, slip-on shoes are not great if you spend most of your day standing or walking. Indoor slip-on shoes, like slippers, are soft and unsupportive and should be worn sparingly. For general, in-house use, choose proper footwear that will support your ankles and take the strain off your joints. If you want to wear slip-on, it is possible to get a custom orthotic sealed to the shoe. This will help, but it isn’t ideal as you won’t get the full lateral support you need. Some shoe brands offer more support than others, such as Birkenstock Milan, Kalahari, and TOMS. So sandal versions of these are an option. Alternatively, look for shoes with firm outer soles that can’t be twisted and only bend under the ball of your foot.
Some shoes, with very soft soles, like Converse or Vans, are not suitable for the addition of supportive orthotics as they are too weak and not built for walking. The orthotic simply sinks into the ‘sponge’ and feels lumpy, doesn’t offer support and will wear out very quickly.
Whatever indoor shoes you choose, ensure your posture is correct by seeking professional advice. A lot of emphasis is put on correcting our sitting position at a desk. We tend to think we’re okay if we have a standing desk, but this isn’t the case. Just as much attention should be paid to your standing position, especially if you stand for long hours at your desk (or anywhere else).
I hope you enjoyed that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christophe Champs is a consultant in Podiatry and Biomechanics and the founder of PODO Clinic and Workshop. Christophe works with clients to help correct postural and biomechanical issues that are causing pain or putting a client at risk of injury. By testing both the moving gait and the still posture, Christophe can correct misalignment and asymmetry by creating custom-made orthotics to suit the exact needs of each client.