Video Highlights

Different people need different kinds of shoes based on their current health and strength
It's best to move away from stiff shoes to shoes that enable more motion for the feet
The many joints in the feet need the freedom and mobility to signal the brain to enable effective
balance and movement
Using your feet with less support (not more!) is ideal

Episode 10: The Basics of Shoes According to Z-Health

Hi, everybody. Dr. Cobb, back again today.

Today we’re going to address one of the most common questions I get, which is, “What about shoes? What shoes should I wear?” And what brought this up actually was on April Fool’s Day we got this great email advertisement from one of our favorite barefoot running shoe companies and it went on about this new shoe that they’ve created and it has all kinds of technological advancements, etc. It really was a spoof because what they were trying to show people or remind people is that we’ve been trying for the last 30 years or so to create shoes that better engineer the foot, when in reality the best thing that we have for walking is what we were born with. We just have to make sure they are healthy and strong.

So, I’m going to go over a couple of things about shoes, and then from there I’m going to talk a little bit about training your feet and ways to begin thinking about this to improve not only your balance, but your overall health. So, in Z-Health people ask us all the time, “OK, what kind of shoes do you recommend?” The number one thing I want you to understand is that shoe wear has to be individualized based off your current level of health and strength. So we generally recommend that people begin moving from their very stiff, motion-control running shoes, orthotics, all that kind of orthopedic and high end/expensive athletic shoes, to shoes that are more, what are called neutral and then tend to promote more motion in the foot.

Now the reason for that is that your foot has a ton of different joints in it and those joints are supposed to be providing information up to your brain to help your balance and improve your movement, and if you wear shoes that are exceedingly controlling of your foot, it becomes very difficult over time for your brain to get the same amount of signaling that it would if you were wearing something that was more mobile. So, I’m going to show you first of all a test that I want you to do and I’m going to show you a couple different types of shoes

The test that we teach all of our clients, is to do this. I want you to take your regular shoe, whatever shoe you wear the most, and I want you to flip it over so that the sole is facing up, and then I want you to grab the heel and then I want you to grab close to the mid-foot or arch region and try to bend it in half, all right? Now, a good shoe should bend in this area in our opinion. So you want to be able to bend it and rotate it. Now you can see that this one’s pretty stiff, but it does have some give to it. That would be a very, from our Z-Health perspective, this would be the type of shoe that would be quite controlling of the foot, but it’s a great transition shoe if you’ve been wearing really stiff shoes.

Now, next in line, we have something, this is from a company called Innovate one of my very favorite companies, and I’m going to do the same test so we’ll flip it over. Again, grab the heel, grab it around the arch. Now, we’re starting to see a lot of bend, and a lot of rotation; much more mobile shoe. To wear this kind of shoe for anything other than walking; so for instance, if I was going to run or play sports or anything else, it’s going to take me a long time to build up my foot strength to be able to wear this kind of shoe, all right, but a great target.

And then last, but not least I have these little shoes that I love. They’re basically a leather barefoot moccasin and they can be rolled up and put in your pocket if you want to carry them around. Now here’s the most important point. Neurologically, we believe that learning to operate your body, operate your feet with less support is ideal. If you think about it this way, if I were to take a neck brace and put it on you and you would wear it 12 to 16 hours a day every day for twenty years, your neck muscles are going to get weak, your joints are going to get weak. Even if I’m going to put your neck in the perfect position, whatever that is, the control provided by the neck brace would really cause deterioration over the time and that’s what we see with shoes and shoe wear.

So, our goal in Z-Health is to optimize performance and optimize health which means we want to make sure that every part of the body can move well. So, if you’re going to begin transitioning out of your very stiff shoes to something that allows more mobility in your feet, you need to make sure that you’re exercising your feet. Now, there’s a lot of different ways that you can go about doing that. In the Z-Health system we have a lot of different foot drills. The easiest ones to find are on one of our DVDs called The Quick Start Guide, or you can meet any Z-Health trainer anywhere around the world and they can show you a lot of different ways to make sure that your feet are prepared to make the transition into shoes that are going to overall impact your movement and health in a better way.

So, there you have it. There’s our baseline take on shoes.

If you have questions about this because this is a big topic, please feel free to call us or contact us at the office.

I look forward to talking to you next week.

Thanks.

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Episode 9: A Crash Course in Breathing
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Episode 11: Focus vs. Multi-tasking: Focus Wins In a Knock-out

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