Ben Franklin probably didn't say "show me a grumpy man and I'll show you a man with bad shoes", but he should have. They say that shoes make the man, and they're right on that one in more ways than one. Good, quality shoes do more than make you look good - they make you feel good. A pair of high quality shoes makes your feet happy, and when your feet are happy, the rest of you is in a much better frame of mind to deal with your day. Poorly made and ill-fitting shoes are at the root of many a miserable day, and here's why.
Poorly made shoes hurt more than your feet.
Your feet are your skeleton's foundation. When there's a problem with the foundation of a building, the symptoms can show up in cracks in the walls or ceilings, floors that tilt in the wrong direction - even in electrical and plumbing problems. The same is true with your body. When your shoes don't support your feet properly, your legs and hips and spine and shoulders and neck try to compensate. Taking any of those out of alignment can cause discomfort, pain and other problems.
You're far more likely to notice the discomfort of things like bunions and blisters caused by rough seams, heel pain from poor support and generally aching feet from shoes that constrict them. Between the obvious pain caused by shoes that aren't made well and the more subtle effects of poorly fit and low quality shoes, you can end up in constant low-level pain. Who can think clearly and be cheerful when their feet and their body are in pain?
How high quality shoes can help
Well-made, quality shoes like those made by Naot support your feet in a number of different ways. Naot shoes are designed to keep your feet happy. The heel cup is designed to keep your heels steady, preventing your ankles from tilting when you walk. The shank that runs from the heel to the ball of your foot gently encourages your feet to distribute your weight evenly. A roomy toe box gives your toes the room they need to move and grip the ground while you walk - even if they're not actually in contact with the ground.
The materials that go into making up your shoes also make a big difference. Real leather breathes, wicking moisture away from your feet and letting air circulate around them. That means cooler feet, less chance of infection and a lot less stinky feet.
What to look for in quality shoes
Now that you know why quality shoes are important, let's talk about how to choose a good pair of shoes that will support your feet - and your body - properly.
-First, look at the shoe.
Style may be important to your eye, but there are other things to look for. Are the seams straight and evenly stitched? Is the leather smooth and well-finished? Does the shoe LOOK well-made?
-Feel the shoe.
Take the shoe in both hands and try to twist it. It should have a little give, but not bend out of shape easily.
Try to bend the shoe in half so that the heel and toe meet. Again, it should have a little give, but you shouldn't be able to fold it. The shank of the shoe should prevent the shoe from bending beyond the ball of the foot.
Push up against the bottom of the toe of the shoe. The front of the shoe should bend easily so that your toes and the balls of your feet can do their work.
-Poke around inside the shoe.
Go on, push your hand inside the shoe and feel around. You should feel no protruding seams or rough areas. The inner surface should be comfortably padded and smooth. The tongue of the shoe should have enough padding to let you lace shoes without cutting into the top of your foot.
-Check the materials.
The uppers and lining of the shoes should be leather. Leather breathes and molds to fit your feet comfortably. You may not be able to look under the shoe's hood, so to speak, but you can ask about other materials. A steel shank is the most supportive, and leather soles will wear far better than most manmade materials.
-A few last things:
Excellent quality shoes like Naot clogs and sandals can be pricey, but it's money well-spent. Still, like anything else, shoes do show wear. You'd hate to find a pair of shoes that fit perfectly and make you feel so good - only to have to replace them in just a few years. A good quality pair of shoes will last you up to ten years - if you care for them properly. Look for shoes that can be resoled and reheeled easily. Naot shoes are among the most versatile in this respect - you can replace the entire shoe bed when needed to keep them feeling fresh, new and comfortable for years.