Even if you do not own a pair of Skechers shoe, chances are you have heard of the brand or know someone who wears them. They have become a very popular style of shoe purporting to offer cushioning and comfort for wearers. Below are some of the most common reasons why they have garnered the support that they have:
· Lightweight flexible synthetic mesh upper with no stitching accommodates different shaped feet.
· Wide fitting style ensures that your little toe or bunion does not feel cramped against the material.
· Cushioned and lightweight thick memory foam, contours to your foot adds to the feeling of comfort.
· Affordable price tag at around $100 per pair.
Although the points listed above are enticing reasons to wear Sketchers on a daily basis the fact of the matter is there are two sides to every story. Much like the ‘free running’ variety of shoes that had people invested in the idea of lightweight, comfortable footwear, these soft and easily malleable form of footwear should be treated with suspicion by people who have biomechanically related foot and lower limb problems. Some reasons why some podiatrists are hesitant to endorse these light weight style Sketchers shoes includes:
· Minimal to no stability in the heel to counteract a heel that “rolls-in” excessively.
· No stability in the midsole. The same density memory foam is used from heel to toe, with ability to flex at any position rendering it unsupportive for feet that have tendency to over-pronate through the midsole.
· There mesh upper of the shoe offers no chance for adjustment, reducing its ability to secure the foot to the shoe as may be required.
These flexible Sketcher shoes remind me of the Nike Free shoe, which are still a very popular choice with people, in particular teenagers. Adults have thankfully now come to recognize that this variety of shoe is not suitable for running or any strenuous exercise, because it provides no support to the foot structures. So, I usually have no problem convincing patients of this as they often have reached the conclusion themselves prior to entering my treatment room. With common problems such as sore balls of the feet, sore arches, unstable ankles or knee pain, it is easy to see why people would be disappointed to hear that these ‘cushioning’ and ‘comfortable’ shoes are anything but what they claim to be.
In saying that, I am a firm believer that shoes like the Sketchers can be used within moderation and for the correct purpose. Below you will find some pointers on how to avoid sore feet whilst using Sketchers:
· Do not use them all day / every day! Feet fatigue with prolonged standing and walking and as such require stable footwear to reduce strain on the muscles, tendons, ligaments and the joint they support.
· Do not use them for fitness, long walks or exercise! You should be in a proper sport shoe for those moments and it could mean the difference between progression with your program and sustaining an injury during it.
· Do not attempt to use them with orthotics! Sketchers DO NOT have appropriate stability in the upper fabric and the heel counter to complement an orthotic. As such, you will probably find the orthotic redundant, or in worse case contributing to the cause of injury. Remember, an orthotic does 50% of the work. The shoe does the other 50%.
The take home message is, you avoid painful feet and costly treatments by simply using the right shoe for the right moment. If you struggle with choosing a shoe or require advice, seek the guidance of one of our specially trained podiatrist who can assess your feet and provide a specialised list of footwear appropriate for your needs. When in doubt, have a podiatrist check it out!
Dr Vanessa Hadchiti (Podiatrist)