It's time to put our shoes back on

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Short read
  1. Walking around without shoes for extended periods of time causes all kinds of foot problems
  2. It would behoove us to put our shoes back on
  3. The foot bone really is connected to the ankle bone. COVID is showing us that every move we do or don’t make, individually or collectively, has downstream and upstream effects on our personal and planetary ecosystem
Longer read
It turns out when people are sent home to work one of the first things to go are the shoes. Two years later as cases of so-called “Pandemic Foot” and “COVID Toe” hobble into podiatry offices across the country, the New York Times reports we are now seeing the downstream consequences of a barefoot nation. The surprise fallout from COVID just never stops. All that time padding around without the support of shoes is putting stress on the ligaments, tendons, and ball of foot, all of which need support and cushioning.
“Without proper shoes and arch support,” says Cedars-Sinae podiatrist Dr. Mark Weissman, “people are more likely to strain their arch, leading to plantar fasciitis. People with flat feet put more stress on the inside of their foot and ankle, leading to tendinitis.”
Also on the rise are toe and foot fractures, some caused by accidentally kicking furniture and tripping and falling over pets according to Dr. Priya Parthasarathy, a Maryland-based podiatric surgeon. “You see one, then you see two, then three and then four,” she said of such pet-related fractures, and you’re like, ‘Wait, there’s definitely a connection here.’”
Plus, your feet just flat out spread, not a look we might choose. More importantly, with nothing to hold them in, a foot is free to splay which can cause anatomical structure changes and which, among other issues, can aggravate bunions. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Judith F. Baumhauer at University of Rochester Medical Center has seen a notable uptick in bunion surgeries.
What a lesson in downstream and upstream COVID is turning out to be, demonstrating the far-reaching impact of lifestyle changes, not just on us individually, but as an ecosystem with the foot a tiny model. While an increase in foot problems is an unanticipated downstream COVID issue, foot problems can, in turn, cause kinetic up-the-chain issues with ankles, knees, hips and back when the foot pain causes us to change the way we walk. Which leads us to this:
Do shoes make the (hu)man? Alas, that is a philosophical and fashion question too important to short-change with a quick answer, but one thing is clear: going without can sure un-make us.