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Sport shops leave buyers wrongfooted

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Cameron, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member

  2. Atlas

    Atlas Well-Known Member

    I don't know much about shoes,

    but what about the simple things?

    3D fit, even 2D?

    Forefoot/flexibility of the shoe matching met-line break?

    Patient comfort?

    Its amazing that a bit of knowledge sometimes forces us to think too complex.

    As a consumer primarily with a little knowledge of feet secondarily, his advice seems too rigid.

    Respect where it is due though, his last paragraph is quite good. As was his comment regarding different feet and different biomechanics. I think we say this too lightly, because every device I tend to make or see has the same old ingredients (inverted rearfoot effect, height under sustentaculum, 1st met shaft sloped to plantar-flex it, first ray cut).

    How can I say in one breath that all feet are different, yet prescribe devices with similar components? :confused:
  3. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member

    >As a consumer primarily with a little knowledge of feet secondarily, his advice seems too rigid.

    I agree and the author falls into the same trap as he accuses the shop assistants of doing.

    >How can I say in one breath that all feet are different, yet prescribe devices with similar components?

    I agree. I believe all foot orthoses can do (rigid or semi rigid, that is) is jam up the joints by lifting, tilting or wedging the foot, or components there off. In the great scheme of things minor malalignment of fore and aft are unlikely to be corrected in any allopathic way, no matter what efficacious claims are made. By preserving end of range motion in joints such as the ankle and knee, and using only middle range motion caused mainly by the action of turning moment moments from an increased foot bulk (ie. foot and foot orthosis), then sufficient rest would be elicited to demonstrate a reduction in subjective symptoms when present. Personally I do not believe foot orthoses make any difference whatsoever to foot function and the feet continue to behave as badly over the surface of the foot orthoses no matter how balanced the prescription may appear.

    Friction wear would clearly attest to this and perhaps, at least in part, this continued movement might explain the findings of Craig and Gerard interesting pilot study.

    What say you?

    Hey, what do I know?
  4. GarethNZ

    GarethNZ Active Member

    Although the author of the article is bagging sports shoe stores/sales assistants in the UK for their lack of knowledge, he has hardly got correct information in the gentleman from Runner's World.

    I assume that he has a good grasp of athletic footwear, with his postition at Runner's World, but mentioning that wetting your foot and looking at the mark it leaves is not a coorect way of assessing foot function. I have a flat foot (pancake levels) and if I was to use this i would end up with a Brooks Beast. This is totally the wrng end of the spectrum, I run in a neutral shoe with increased lateral stability via an orthotic device.

    I can understand that he will need to give some information to help readers choose a correct running shoe, but there is no substitute for having a technical store fit your patient for a correct shoe. The shoes he has mentioned are hardly of much use for an over pronator...more a neutral runner that need a very very mild amount of medial support
  5. Todd Brown

    Todd Brown Member


    Well, this is a topic that I have seen up close and in some cases had to bite my tongue. I am a new graduate who through my 4 yrs of studying podiatry worked in the local "speciaist sport shoe store" that shall for the purpose of this discussion remain nameless.
    When I started working there I could initially not understand how or why every person that came straight from the podiatrist (orthotics in hand) to buy shoes was being told to buy "BEAST" This is what they would say and of course this is what you would sell them. Fortunately or unfortunatley I worked for a boss who always stocked plenty of this shoe so not often were we short of sizes.

    I to was very quzzical (not sure if that is a word) about the wet foot print idea but had heard it used by a physiotherapist in his guide to buying footwear.

    I failed to understand how all these people needed the same shoe. I understood the features that made these shoes supportive and accomodative of orthotics but thought (and was learning at uni) that there were variations b/w people and their "normal" anatomical structure, and gait.

    4 yrs later and it seems there has been a shift and we are now prescribing "neutral" shoes for people with orthotics and the device is doing the work rather than the shoe. Is this the thinking of other practising podiatrists???? As this seems to be the line the footwear companies are using on the retailers.

    Todd Brown
  6. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member

    Hi Todd

    In the history of shoes, "left and right " (in flair) only appear at the beginning of the 20th century in mass produced footwear. These had been trialed previously during the American civil war and proved to be an unmitigating disaster. This was partly due to shoddy workmanship and brass tacks, which protruded through the soldier’s boots. Officers in the Union Army were issued with files and ordered to "get down to brass tacks". Commerce decided not to introduce left and right shoes to the general public for another half century. Hence up until the 20th century people would wear straight flared shoes, which could be worn on the right and left foot. Bespoke footwear would improve fit but the vast majority of people could not afford to buy these.
    Shoes were very expensive and it was common to bequeath shoes to family, hence "following in your father's footsteps".
    With increased mechanisation and mass production shoemakers perfected right and left fittings for shoes with heels, up until this time this had been very difficult to do.

    These were heavily promoted through marketing and promulgated as being better for your feet. In truth it was a sales gimmick which sold shoes to an expanding middle class. By the same token companies like Clarks saw the window of opportunity and sold children's shoes to the same demographic eager to have their kids in 20th century "right and left " fittings. Until these time children, if they wore shoes at all had adult size downs.

    It is only in the last three decades straight flared shoes have remerged in sports shoes and kid's footwear. Principally these were gimmicks, which had little to do with any practical purpose. More recently as base line orthotic shells have become larger than the foot base more shoes are sold now which accommodate the bulk. This gives straight flares more space to accommodate right and left preferences.

    Interesting to note that foot morphology has not changed over millions of years and archaeological finds of Roman sandals would confirm 2000 years ago people had the same foot problems as they have today and in the same percentages. So apart from personal preference in flair outflair or straight flair make no significant difference

    What say you?

  7. GarethNZ

    GarethNZ Active Member

    I was having the same discussion with a fellow Podiatrist 2 days ago. On the topic of running shoes (which I'm sure your comments were directed towards), there had been some comments from Podiatrist in Auckland, New Zealand that they were prescribing more "neutral" shoes. We didn't feel that they were suggesting these simply because they were "neutral" but because they were sufficient enough in term of support to allow the orthotic to control the rest of the foot pathology. We felt that so called "neutral" shoes are becoming more stable and less "neutral" in their features. There is a closer gap between the various levels of control with a prime example being the Adistar Cushion form Adidas. The models that this shoe has superceeded were more cushion shoes than what it is today. From what I hear as well, the Brooks Beast was used too much a few years ago...although it is a very useful shoe for the right foot type!
  8. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member

    " It is not what the shoe can do but what the foot can do in the shoe" to paraphrase JFK

    Sports shoe designers have swung away from lateral stability as the primary function of stabilisation and accept more the windlass action required to create knee stability. This of course obviates the Root device as the pivotal control since it is during propulsion when the heel has left the ground that the knee is at it most vulnerable. Nowadays latereral stability can easily be built into the shoe without increasing bulk by cleverly incorporating intelligent polymer combinations which have different elastic memory and modulus of compression, bulk and elasticity. Hence the more streamline shoes which fit the foot. This lets the foot do what comes naturally, or be all you can be.

    This of course goes at a tangent to the Root bioemchanists who continue to consider lateral stability as the primary goal of intervention. All this despite clear evidence to indicate peak injuries in soccer players were recorded when antipronators (lateral control) were popular.

    I think technology and material science has moved on considerably leaving many podiatric biomechanists still practising the black art. This does not mean to say people suffer as a consequence and anidotally many will appear to benefit from consultation. However statistically the collected experience would I suggest be less than significant compared to the wider experience.

    Hey, what do I know.
  9. Todd Brown

    Todd Brown Member

    Thank you to both Cameron and Gareth for your replies and insight on this topic. I gathered that from all of that the marketing done by the shoe companies to both podiatrists and to the general public is what drives the resultant "footwear prescription" I am starting to question the types of shoes I am asking my patients to wear.

    Is it not fair to say now that as long as the shoe accomodates the device all is well, although this could be considered very ignorant to the vast changes that are happening in the material sciences of footwear.

  10. GarethNZ

    GarethNZ Active Member


    It depends on what you mean by the marketing done by shoe companies. They definitely are the ones that provide their information on noew types of materials and theories that they feel are going to benefit both Podiatrist and consumers BUT

    I still feel that there is no substitute for reliable shoes providing the correct amount of support with the use of a well prescribed orthotic device. We (4 podiatrists within the same clinic) find that using a shoe list (with tick boxes) is helpful in detailing the main 30 or so shoes that we would refer for. This mainly details runners but also shows a good selection of other types of sports specific footwear. You would find us ticking 2-3 shoes that we feel would be suitable for the amount of support needed but not being confined to just these where by a shoe store is trained to help out too.

    Using this as a guide we feel that using a top quality shoe store is the only real way that you can provide your patient not only the corrct amount of control but also the correct fit.
  11. Todd Brown

    Todd Brown Member

    I think that is the approach that I will be taking, I have just started to attend a specialist shoe store who place an emphasis on fit one saturday morning per month. This allows me to stay in touch with the new shoes that are available and also to promote the profession and what we do.

    It also means that I can answer any questions that the staff might have about specific foot injuries and problems that they should be referring on for further assessment.
  12. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    Dear Folks,
    I worked in the ski and bushwalking industry for nearly 20 years. Started a money back fit guarrantee in 1987, even after the boots had been used.
    Spent a lot of time playing with feet and solving fit problems, referring off to podiatry...by 1993 decided I needed to go do podiatry...so I did.
    I have a bunch of ideas about how, why and why not shoes/boots fit or don't fit. I'm sure not all this will be new to you.
    Heres a few basic thoughts for you to consider.
    1. Basic foot comfort is influenced by footwear.
    2.Level of activity and performance is influenced by foot comfort and efficiency.
    3. How footwear needs to fit depends on the nature of the activity to be performed.
    4.The nature and success of the interface between foot and shoe is effected by both the foot and the shoe.
    5.How a boot for a gait sport needs to fit is different to how a boot for a non-gait sport (Alpine skiiing, blade skating, ice skating)
    Some observed general trends....
    1. Women want to wear footwear too small
    2. Men often want it too big.
    3.The more rigid the nature of the footwear the more important the nature of the fit actually becomes.
    4.The less rigid the nature of the shoe the less important the nature of the fit becomes.
    5.The three dimensional shape of the foot is obviously important in relation to the internal shape of the footwear.
    6. The dynamic function of the foot is very important....a good static fit is not enough for gait sports.
    7. A mobile foot type that changes shape more radically between loaded and unloaded will generally generate more shear between foot and shoe.
    7b. People with increased transverse motion component in gait are often tough ones to win.
    8. The more rigid the footwear the more serious increased shear is likely to be.
    9.For long periods of activity shear is / can be a serious issue.
    10.Stabilizing a mobile foot within rigid footwear can be crucial to successful fit....and even within things as soft as running shoes.
    10b. Orthoses to reduce shape change and shear.
    11.To get a good fit from the products on the market you need to know the last shapes and flex/rigidity of the products.....and the feet you are dealing with.
    12. Listening to customer feed back, keeping notes and solving problems over years can teach you things.
    My sermon reflex just wore off......
    Regards Phill Carter
  13. Atlas

    Atlas Well-Known Member

    Great post.
  14. Todd Brown

    Todd Brown Member

    A wonderful posting that makes good sense, i would particularly have to agree with the points 1 & 2 in the observed general trends. This is despite being advised against it, a particular problem in sports shoe fitting of women as the stark white nature of the shoe often makes it look bigger than it is. And as anyone who has tried to fit shoes on women knows there is no right answer to the question "do they make my feet look big?"

    All for now
  15. Todd Brown

    Todd Brown Member

    A wonderful posting that makes good sense, i would particularly have to agree with the points 1 & 2 in the observed general trends. This is despite being advised against it, a particular problem in sports shoe fitting of women as the stark white nature of the shoe often makes it look bigger than it is. And as anyone who has tried to fit shoes on women knows there is no right answer to the question "do they make my feet look big?"

    All for now
  16. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member

    Hi Phill

    How are you doing ?

    Women like to wear shoes that are too small.

    A well kent truism but I think there may be good physiological reason why this is so and not just down to vanity. Apparently proprioception on the medial and lateral aspects of the female foot is pretty acute and registers in the brain, when bombarded, the feeling of extremity comfort. To accentuate this shoes (elevated) which unlock the forefoot and cause splaying encourage a better feeling of comfortable footwear.

    Most sport shoes have been adult males downsized to fit smaller feet. No real consideration has been given to width differences, which are particularly relevant to females. Hence women would tend to prefer smaller sizes
    (reduced volume) for comfort. Now this aspect has been articulated more by profession athletes earning similar purses to males the sports wear industry is trying harder to cater female customers by offering width fittings.

    As to colour - When the visual signal conflicts with neurological information the brain seeks confirmation i.e. how can this feel so comfortable yet look so big. The question "does my feet look big in these shoes" is I would suggest a rhetorical question, not for vanity but to reassure the brain the information received is accurate.

    Waht say you?

  17. Lawrence Bevan

    Lawrence Bevan Active Member

    sports shoes

    I have a colleague that used to wear size 7 and is now in size 8 running shoe. She feels more comfortable but now realises she was basically in denial before. No neurological anything, psychological lots + people generally have no idea as to what is a properly fitting shoe.

    I am lead to believe (by company technical reps) that very recently manufacturers of running shoes have "been listening" to feedback and are making their shoes lighter and so less dense and I think we will see a trend of neutral shoes being softer and less supportive. Look out for this people you may need to amend your recommendations. In my opinion a mild stability shoe is a useful adjuct to an orthotic and gives a little extra support and stops the orthotic sinking into the medial side of the midsole. NB 854 is a good example.

    Cameron - "orthotics dont do anything whatsoever, jam up the foot, Root was WRONG..." ??? ??? ??? ??? Get out more. :)
  18. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member

    Cameron - "orthotics dont do anything whatsoever, jam up the foot,
    Root was WRONG..." ??? ??? ??? ??? Get out more. :)

    You will need to explain. I may be accused of many things but champion of podiatric biomechanics is not one of them, I am afraid. I have no truck with Root et al, and only admiration for their original thinking, however my criticms are directed at devotees who follow a doctrine without question and inspite of scientific fact to the contrary.

    New shoe design and technology has already overtaken shoe inlays and many now include levers and support which might traditonally have come from orthosis. This technology has made foot orthoses rather outmoded.

    Brave new world.

    BTW Where am I supposed to go?

  19. Lawrence Bevan

    Lawrence Bevan Active Member



    I used to own a running shoe shop until v recently. Some shoes were good and some were woeful. Some things can be done with a shoe and some can only be done with an orthotic and some can only done in combination.

    I was always getting technical reps from the manufacturers telling me the same as you - shoes have replaced orthotics. In some way thats good - there arent enough Pods to supply orthotics for the numbers of people wearing stability running shoes. I would never give them too hard a time always just say "its horses for courses", like you I dislike anyone who unquestionaly supports one philosophy or doctrine. Some people know that they dont know stuff, some people just dont know stuff.

    BTW since I purchased my F-Scan and have tried to become a full-on sagittal plane practitioner a la Dr D of New Hampshire USA, I have found that it really just helps explain how A Root-like orthotic actually does change function for the better. Strange but true (in my experience)
  20. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member

    >since I purchased my F-Scan and have tried to become a full-on sagittal plane practitioner a la Dr D of New Hampshire USA, I have found that it really just helps explain how A Root-like orthotic actually does change function for the better. Strange but true (in my experience)

    Yep, Lateral stability is very important and part of the kinetic chain of events during stance phase. No argument from me there. Each heel strike is an unique event and you are right quite "conditions apply".

    I do know nothing.
  21. Atlas

    Atlas Well-Known Member

    Obviously a bad (incongruent/ill-fitting last etc) shoe can make a foot sore. But does that necessarily mean that a brilliant shoe can make a sore foot symptom-free?

    I am more aligned to those that think a good orthotic in an average shoe will do the trick, rather than just a brilliant shoe.

    As a clinician, I used to get slightly frustrated when another foot health professional would give "magazine advice". In other words, don't get down to the nitty-gritty and diagnose what is wrong. Rather, blame the nike shoes the patient was wearing and strongly advise the patient to go and purchase a $250 pair of Brooks/Asics.

    $250 later the patient invariably was unchanged. Not that this advice is totally improper; but made on the basis of minimal biomechanical and musculo-skeletal assessment, one is more a sales representative for Brooks/Asics rather than being a foot health professional IMO.
  22. Todd Brown

    Todd Brown Member

    I am inclined to agree with your line of thinking although I have seen it from both perspectives. Working in sports shoe store to pay my way through uni found that people with obvious foot pain/problems come in hoping to have their problems cured by a new pair of shoes.

    I was always eager to establish a motive for the purchase of the shoes were they buying the shoes to cure their foot pathology or because they needed new shoes. I tried to point out that a pair of $250 shoes may not be the solution but a pair of functional orthoses in the existing shoes may in fact be a better long term option.

    Now as a podiatrist I am trying to explain to people that putting an orthotic in certain less supportive shoes is contradictory and defeats the purpose of wearing an orthotic.

    I hope this makes sense, it sounded better in my head. I think it makes me sound like a fence`sitter and we all know what happens to people who sit on the fence
  23. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    Hi Cameron and all,
    I am well and having fun thanks Cameron. I hope you are too.
    I did not suggest that women want smaller sizes for vanity reasons alone...I believe it is mostly because they get habituated into close fitting shoes early in life when they first start to buy grown up shoes....slip on courts etc that only hold the foot minimally....they need to fit pretty small in order to feel as though they are going to stay on....5 yrs later that tight fit over the toes is all part of the neural feedback they associate with wearing shoes that fit properly.Any change to this feel takes time to get used to and activity experience in order to trust it.
    The very best bad lesson is let them buy a pair of walking boots the size they want and learn the hard way...it only takes about 10km and a few hills.
    After that they'll buy what you tell them....we used to tell them to go buy what they want else where....if they buy what we tell them we'll take their money and guarrantee the fit....mostly they believed us and were happy, we never needed to refund much.
    Rgards Phill
  24. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    Our consideration of fit was far more to do with the 3 dimensional last shape than with the number on the box so very little head space was soaked up with concern for what number was written on the box.....shape the boot right, get the length right and the support is there in all the right places without contact with the toes.....women still feel this is too big...often, not always.
    Regards Phill
  25. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member

    Hi Phill

    >I believe it is mostly because they get habituated into close fitting shoes early in life when they first start to buy grown up shoes....

    You could be dangerously close to misogynistic generalisation there.:)

    I believe the popularity of extreme sports has encouraged better fitting of footwear which is much to the relief of the retailer and principally driven by a better-informed consumer.

    A comment re sales rhetoric

    I agree sales bumph is gobbledegook, but a firm grasp of material science and shoe design works wonders when following sport shoe trends.

    Hey, what do I know?
  26. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    If I make the observation that the majority of people who live in Africa have one shade or another of black skin, there is no racist content in the statement. There is nothing "women hating" about observations in relation to the population of women boot customers we have dealt with. If I said they were stupid rather than poorly informed in relation to footwear performance that would be different.

    And your point about footwear fitting being driven by more discerning consumers, is in my opinon....rubbish.

    There has been a 25 to 30 yr educational campaign waged by specialty manufacturers, equipment designers and retailers beginning in the snow ski industry in the US, late 70's onwards.
    A diaspora of knowledge and effort has ceaselessy tried to educate consumers to not listen to brand advertising and buy what works best for them as an individual.

    I know this is the case in Australia....because we were first. Many of the things we were doing in the early mid eighties are now being presented to the public as new and original ideas by large companies with many stores and large advertising budgets.
    It was not the public driving us....it was us trying to pull the public kicking and screaming towards making well informed and objective decisions based on individual performance.

    This not sour grapes on my part....just history.... I lived it.

    Regards Phill Carter
  27. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member


    Thank goodness we are free to express our opinions. Of course as we know the world is a little bigger than our own back yard and the problem with extrapolating personal experience to othersareas is rather like a good wine that does not travel well.

    Best to agree conditions apply

    Have a good one.

  28. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    Conditions always apply....my experience in this particular field goes back to 1981, with frequent contact with representatives from development businesses from France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Jugoslavia, Norway, Finland, England (occaissionally), the US, Canada and I have spent time visiting retailers in most of these countries at various times over the last 17 years.

    Of course there are limits to how much I can apply my experiences to situations outside my range.

    However I would suggest that my "backyard" is a little bigger than you may suspect.

    Not that I need to get involved in "mines bigger then yours" contests.

    One of the earliest companies that I am aware of to begin trying to educate retailers and then retailers the public was 'Superfeet', (out of the US and Italy using products developed by an Australian guy by the name of Sven Coomer ) and Koflach from Austria.

    Soon after came Compufit out of Bend, Oregon in the States, the first 2d foot scanning system that I am aware of that made it to the retail level, in the early 80's. They were offering a 3d system fairly early too but at huge cost, the poverty pack 2d system was 20k back then and 1.5k annual update of software fee. A good deal of money back then.

    Compufit took every ski boot produced in the world and scanned the cross sectional area of each boot in each size taking an image at every mm or so along the entire length of the boot to give the computer a "3d" image of the internal last shape of each boot. These guys worked as consultants to various multinational footwear makers and did a similar thing with running shoes in about '86 or so I think it was.
    They were trying to take the operator skill out of boot fitting, kind of like what Athletes foot is trying to do now, apart from the wizz bang marketing benefits of course. Maybe you are familiar with all this....already.

    These businesses were well in advance of any ground swell of public demand in any of the markets in which they were operating.....certainly they saw potential, but these whole industries spent alot of years fertilizing the field before they began to harvest the crop. And others are now reaping the benefits of that early work too.

    I do agree that the main stream running footwear market is perhaps now beginning to inherit more discerning users through transfer from one field to another, in the same way that the ski industry thought it invented polar fleece clothing in about 1992 when the mountaineering and backpacking makers had been using it for 12 to 14 years before that.

    Certainly my experience is limited, but I can tell you that in many ways the Australian consumer of outdoor recreational footwear is better educated than the consumers in other countries, due largley to the efforts of that industry to educate its consumers. Whether you believe me or not is of course a different issue....but on the other hand I was there. I would not begin to debate the history of podiatry and it's education with you.....you have been there. But as you say I am entitled to an opinion....whatever it may be based on. And of course the possiblity is that whatever I have seen, my conclusions are still wrong.

    Certainly things will change with time, but when in the past I have visited a range of high profile businesses around the world it was clear that their methods were behind on average rather than in front of the typical levels of operation within Australia. There are, of course, always individual exceptions.

    Regards Phill
  29. Phil, I agree with all of the above.

    I agree more that women, in general, desire or are accustomed to wearing shoes that are too small for their feet. Men, in general, wear shoes that fit fairly well and I haven't found that men wear shoes that are too big. I have a few ideas why this is, but it is a very consistent observation that I have seen both in my days of selling shoes and in my 20+ years of assessing shoe fit as a podiatrist.
    I don't understand what "rigid the nature of footwear" means? Does this refer to midsole or sole stiffness or shoe upper flexibility??

    I agree with #5 and #6.

    I especially like #12. That's a pretty good list, Phil. It obviously shows your experience in the shoe trade.

    Let me try to continue:

    13. Durometer of midsole in rearfoot and forefoot have a large effect on comfort and injury prevention in running and walking.
    14. Today's walking and athletic shoes, in general, have too low of a durometer to adequately control excessive frontal plane forces in the foot and, as a result, these shoe midsoles undergo compression set very rapidly.
    15. Women will subject themselves to much more pain in their feet than men will in order to look "fashionable" in shoes. In other words, it is almost accepted among women that foot pain will occur when wearing stylish shoes and walking and standing all day, whereas, men will not accept foot pain as a consequence of being fashionable. (These are, of course, generalities, as there are exceptions.)
    16. Expensive shoes are not necessarily better for feet and less expensive shoes are not necessarily worse for feet.
    17. Different countries and communities have very different standards as to what "acceptable" shoes are.
    18. Foot orthoses are much easier to fit into shoes today than they were 20 years ago with the advent of sockliner insoles that are not glued into shoes.
    19. Heel height differential of shoes will have a huge effect on orthosis comfort and function.
    20. Podiatrists get much more concerned that making foot orthoses for children with asymptomatic flatfeet may be unethical or harmful for the child than they get concerned about the harm that occurs to children's feet when they wear shoes that are too tight, the wrong shape or too thick and unstable in the sole. In other words, there is much more harm to children's feet with improperly fit and poorly functioning shoes than there is harm from foot orthoses.
  30. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    Hi Kevin,
    I didn't want to display too much of my OCD condition in public at once....so I didn't bother to go into what I see as effects caused by stiffness/rigidity of upper vs midsole vs shank, be it 1/2 or 3/4.

    When I said "rigidity of footwear" I meant in a fairly general way as a piece of footwear gets more rigid it is less able to follow the foot through its natural changes in shape and proportion, so the shear stress between the two (foot and boot )becomes greater unless the fit of the boot is particularly good.
    A particularly good example of this is the older style "alpine guide" type boot which had either 3/4 or full steel shank but was still walked in a fair bit, but also used for climbing and cramponing, even front pointing on steep ice. Not that many people are wearing stuff like that these days, but I think the principle still applies as a trend.

    These days plastic shell boots with a fully lasted liner boot tends to be used for this function and the shear is mostly taken between the shell and liner rather than on the foot.

    If you put a sock on a foot and allow the foot to move through its full range of available motion the sock will follow the foot and there will be effectively zero shear between the two.
    As a shoe gets added the softer the shoe the more easily it will follow the foot and there will be some shear between the two.
    The stiffer the boot gets in shank, sole, midsole or upper the more sheer will occur between the two unless the fit is particularly good....and a mobile foot stabilized.

    In respect to the mens fit thing... it is potentially a cultural factor, I believe I have seen significant numbers of young men who wear shoes too big and I have theorized that this is due to the fact that as youngsters their Mums or Dads buy their shoes and make sure there is plenty of growth room so that most of their teenage years they are in footwear a little large, and get used to the way it feels.
    When they start buying their own they keep buying it to feel the same until someone tells them different. Usually only 1\2 to one size and not always.

    Regards Phill Carter.
  31. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    As far as the points you add I would agree....too much marketing/advertising and selling of the sizzle rather than the steak helps obscure what really counts.
    Regards Phill
  32. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member


    No argument from me.

  33. My theory on this is that girls want their feet to look small (or want people to perceive that their feet are small) and boys don't mind having big feet (or may even want their feet to be perceived as being bigger). This is probably a similar cultural/psychological phenomenom to where tall women will often times develop a slouched posture to try to appear shorter and short men may feel self-conscious about their short stature.

    In other words, our culture seems to think that it is OK to be a big man but not OK to be a big woman whereas it is OK to be a little woman but not OK to be a little man. Again, I don't proclaim to be an expert in this matter, but these seem to be pretty consistent observatons. I find these differences between male and female personalities and clothes/shoe selection quite fascinating. I'm sure Cameron Kippen can add much more to the discussion in this regard.
  34. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member

    Hi Kevin

    > I find these differences between male and female personalities and clothes/shoe selection quite fascinating.

    Most authorities would agree western women dress to complement their personality whereas western men dress to comply with a group.


    Much of our modern concept of the body derives from the Judo Christian belief; "men" are made in the image of God. (The Bible has very recently been translated into political correct speech and now the original scripture translation is “people were made in the image of God”). However historically early Christian art captured the godlike figures in an idealised from. To be god like meant you were bigger and had perfect form. Being a paternalistic religion, women were smaller and their curves accentuated. Early Christian art (first three centuries) was highly eroticised but much was destroyed or altered (addition of fig leafs) when procreation was replaced with loss of innocence or acceptance of sin . Androgogenous figures crept into the new Christian art partly because homosexuality was quietly condoned and more particularly women were considered to be impure and temptresses (Jezebels). When the Renaissance arrived dissection became possible and more realistic depiction of the human form took place in art. Despite knowing more about human anatomy there was a return to the classics where men were big and women small. The statue of David is a good example All the musculature is in perfect proportion but his member is small. This is a token to the ancient Greeks who preferred to downplay appendages.

    Soon artists played with perspective and parts of the body were deliberately elongated (such as the neck) or highly curved i.e. the foot. At times in history where syphilis was rife there was a deliberate sexualisation of the female foot in art and literature. Small, highly arched, pure white with straight toes was the criteria of the perfect foot. In the Early Middle Ages women of substance wore shoes not made to fit comfortably and were respected for suffering as an act of piety. It was only in the 18th century foot fashion for women was introduced. Men from the beginning wore the better crafted shoes and the peacock styles of high arched heel shoes that pinched the feet were in vogue for men until the French Revolution. Men adopted the more conservative styles for fear of loosing their heads and eventually the English Look was perfected by the 1930’s (now back in style now)

    Meantime respectable women of society took to the neo classic styles of Napoleon (heel less slippers) and the French heeled shoes worn by sex workers were taken to New Orleans when the girls were transported there. Their popularity with North American men spawned a new fashion for heeled shoes for women. Hence the Jezebel association which was further reinforced in popular culture by the developing Hollywood industry where bad girls wore heels and good girls, sensible shoes.

    It is that misogynistic personification we still live with, blinding us to the fact women may have a prefectly sound physiological reason why heels are more suited to them and smaller volumed shoes more appropriate to their proprioception needs.

    For decades the sports shoe industry has been guilty of downsizing male sizes to fit female feet. Only since the US Government realsed the general lack of fitness of their younger population has there been a major impitus to cater for the anthropometric needs of the population. What Plill described as the innovations of the ski boot is all part of this major initiative. Some of the major developments in soccer internationally has come from the US soccer moms concerned about sports related injury. New shoe innovations as wearable technology is light years ahead. Take a look at Addidas 1.

    Hey, what do I know?
  35. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    Do you know anything about the term "round heel" used to describe women...of dubious pedigree in the '40's and 50's I think.?
    Regards Phill
  36. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member

    Hi Phill

    Round heel probably relates to stockings rather than shoes. The term descibes a 'V' heel stitching in stockings associated with the French. During La Belle Epoque all things French became synonim for sauseyness eg. Can, Can. Deportation of criminals from mother France form previous times took sex workers all over the world and many French and other Europeans dominated by Napoleon, fled to Australia. Bordellos were popular in most port cities and the French girls were especially sought after. Round heels probably became a colquialism. Later in the 40's girls wearing round heels stockings (at a time of rationing) were tarnished with being naughty.

    Hey. what do I know?
  37. pgcarter

    pgcarter Well-Known Member

    Ok......and here I was thinking it was perhaps a round heel that made them easy to push over backwards....
    Thanks Phill
  38. Cameron

    Cameron Well-Known Member


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