We generally associate poor posture with sitting at a desk all day, watching TV for long periods of time, and inadequate physical activity, but our shoes can also lead to poor posture. Making the switch to minimalist shoes can help improve posture and musculoskeletal health over long term wear.
At Lems, we design shoes that build healthy feet, which ultimately leads to stronger muscles. Improper footwear can weaken ankle, leg, and hip muscles, leading to misalignment in our bones.
Traditional footwear squishes toes together, lifts the toes up, and elevates the heel. Over time, this misalignment starts to affect our posture.
Minimalist shoes can reverse the damage caused by wearing conventional shoes over time, slowly rebuilding the muscles and proper alignment to train your body back toward ideal posture.
What Does Proper Posture Look Like?
If you stand in front of a mirror or take a full-length photograph of yourself, you will be able to determine right away whether your posture could use some improvement.
Proper posture means that when you stand, your spine should be straight. Slight curving in the lower and shoulder blades is normal, but excessive curvature in either direction is not ideal.
Your hips should be aligned with your shoulders and knees, and the knees should line up centered with the ankles.
How Poor Posture Affects the Body
Long term effects of sitting hunched over a computer for eight hours per day, staring into our phones, or walking with a curved spine are due to weak muscles and imbalances.
The feet support the weight of the entire body and absorb the shock with every step. If we settle into the habit of sitting and moving with poor posture, it can put unnecessary pressure on muscles and joints, leading to:
- Poor circulation
- Chronic pain in the back, neck, and shoulders
- More injuries
- Lack of range of motion
- Tight muscles
- Poor balance
- Decreased performance and efficiency
This is why proper posture and improving muscle strength is crucial to overall health.
Why Minimalist Shoes Help Improve Posture
Traditional shoes raise the heel anywhere from 14-25mm, whereas zero-drop or minimal-drop shoes can range from 0-6mm on average. What this means for your posture is that your heel and toes are level, mimicking your natural barefoot stance on a flat surface.
With every step, your feet absorb 5 times your body weight. If you’re not landing properly, then you can develop foot issues like plantar fasciitis and bunions, as well as injuries due to the repetitive motion with improper posture.
A more flexible sole may seem counterintuitive, however, the supple footbed does not restrict the foot's natural movement and encourages full range of motion not just of the feet, but also the hips, knees, ankles, and pelvis.
Conventional Shoes and Musculoskeletal Health
Modern shoes are designed primarily for aesthetic purposes, with little consideration for foot health. Typically, conventional footwear features a stiff and rigid sole with an elevated and a tapered toe box that lifts the toes.
Problems with an elevated heel
When your foot is raised over the toes, it puts unnecessary strain on the ankle, mimicking a motion of constant downhill walking. The stress placed on the ankle ligaments increases the likelihood of an ankle sprain.
Further, the pelvis and spine must accommodate for the imbalance, straining the joints and muscles over time. This position also shortens the calf muscles and tendons, resulting in weaker push off with every step, causing inefficiencies in physical activities.
Stiff Soles Restrict Muscle Movement
A thick, stiff sole requires the ankles to work harder, which puts other muscles, tendons, and ligaments out of a job, causing weakness and imbalances.
As mentioned above, soft, flexible soles allow the feet to move naturally and in their full range of motion. In addition, the thinner sole places the foot closer to the ground, teaching our feet to respond to various textures.
Narrow toe boxes hinder full range of motion
Toes squished together in a narrow toe box can negatively impact the feet and overall musculoskeletal health in a number of ways, including:
- Nerve damage
- Reduced range of motion
- Foot deformities
- Reduced blood circulation
These issues can lead to poor posture and other serious problems over time.
When you switch to minimalist shoes, it’s likely that you’ll start to notice improved posture when you stand or walk, as well as reduced pain in the back, knees, and hips.