As the temperature bar plummets, many of us will be reaching for a chunky pair of boots to battle the elements.
A well-chosen pair of boots not only brings added warmth and grip but also sacrifices little in terms of style in the pursuit of comfort.
Now, Dr Hana Patel, NHS GP and GP Medico-Legal Expert Witness, has partnered with footwear retailer, schuh, to determine the comfiest pair of boots for your feet.
Considering all aspects of foot health – from heel heights to foot pressure – Dr Hana Patel reveals the boots that are really made for walking.
The importance of foot health
Foot health is arguably a much-overlooked aspect of health and can have far-ranging consequences over a person’s life span. In fact, there are 16,900 podiatrists operating in the UK today.
Dr Patel explains: “I think we should all be more aware of what our feet are telling us. Often, foot pressure can be a telltale sign our shoes aren’t right for us. While a normal ‘breaking in’ period is natural, ignoring excessive foot pressure can only worsen things and may lead to long-term complications down the line.
“As we age, our feet change and often broaden. This can lead to the development of foot health issues such as blisters or leg ulcers which can, in more serious cases, lead to falls as well as daily pain.”
“Choosing the correct footwear can combat this and future-proof your feet for decades to come.”
How far down the line might people see the impact of wearing uncomfortable shoes?
Correctly fitting footwear should have little to no impact on our general health, and ill-fitting shoes can cause damage to your feet almost immediately – from pins and needles caused by foot constriction to corns, nail problems and arch pain.
Dr Patel continues: “There isn’t much information on the duration of people’s foot problems; however, factors such as job role, working environment, activity levels, and body weight can all exacerbate problems. These should all be considered when buying new footwear.
“One thing that is for sure is that seemingly short-term problems can quickly turn into longer ones if left unaddressed, which can have mental, physical and emotional implications.
Do people need to sacrifice style for comfort?
In short, not necessarily. However, some shoe styles carry greater risks than others. High heels, for instance, long admired as an emblem of female style and sophistication, have demonstrably caused discomfort in some wearers when worn for longer durations.
Dr Patel said: “High-heeled shoes may affect how well our muscles work when we walk, and wearers often report that they experience discomfort and muscle fatigue. Long-term high heel use may increase the risk of injuries so it may be best to save for special occasion wear.
“However, with versatile shoes like Dr. Martens for Women, which can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, shoppers can stay fashion-forward while looking after their feet.”
The REAL science behind comfortable footwear
It’s certainly true that comfortable shoes have clear health benefits.
Dr Patel further explains the science: “The higher the heel of your shoe, the greater the pressure exerted on the soles of your feet under your toes while reducing the pressure in your big toe and heel.
“Try to limit high heel heights to more sporadic use, and if you are going to wear heels, shorter ‘kitten’ heels and those with a wider toe box will be kinder to your feet.
“A winter boot style, such as Dr. Martens, retains the height benefits of heels while being kinder to your feet. Once broken in, Docs provide generous support that keeps your feet in their correct posture. This can help prevent foot disorders such as plantar fasciitis, aching arches, corns and calluses.
“The same study also found that the material used to make the shoe can also affect how comfortable the wearer felt, especially on areas such as the top of the foot and back of the heel.
“By changing the height of the heel and material used to make the shoe, people can experience different levels of comfort. The quality, durable leather of Dr. Martens should suit here.”