Saturday, January 8, 2011

Shoes Your Weapon

For no good reason, my feet have declared war on me.

If you talk to them (I don’t recommend it, but go ahead, if you insist), they will say it’s all my fault, because I’m 30 pounds overweight and inherited this dramatic clomping motion in my gait, like I’m constantly trying to kill spiders.

True as this may be, I don’t actually walk very often. My primary recreational outlets include swimming, yelling at teenagers, and strenuous nose-picking. None of these require my feet, except occasionally the last one (only when I’m typing).

So my feet have no excuse for aching all the time.

I retaliate by wrenching them into every manner of experimental footwear I can get my hands on, trying to find something that will finally make them shut up.

Recently, I began to think I’d have to give up on shoes and try to only walk on heavily padded surfaces for the rest of my life.

This idea might not be completely crazy, according to Liberty University biology professor Daniel Howell. Interviewed on the Today Show last month, Dr. Howell said, “90 percent of our foot problems can be traced back to the shoe.” He himself goes around barefoot nearly all the time, a choice made easier by the fact that he tends to avoid public restrooms, anyway.

What about cold weather? “Your feet will adapt,” he said, as long as the ground is dry. Sounds like he won’t be visiting Maine anytime soon.

Anyway, Dr. Howell failed to convince me to eschew my shoes. For one thing, walking surfaces are often very poky. Furthermore, you don’t see too many podiatrists walking around barefoot.

So I knew there must be a shoe compromise out there someplace. A few days ago, I finally found it.

If you stray down to the Maine Mall in South Portland, you will probably wind up leaving with something weird. This time, I wound up with a pair of those newfangled round-bottomed shoes.

Go ahead and laugh, but you won’t be laughing nearly as hard when these damn things cause me to trip over your front door threshold and test the limits of your liability insurance.

Sure, from a style standpoint, three-inch soles in the shape of a half-moon do not earn many points. They call to mind a plaster cast, with less allowance for creativity -- a fabulous choice for a mythical creature from a Tolkein novel, perhaps, but not for a sophisticated man about town such as myself.

But they promise to improve your posture, tone your muscles, erase your wrinkles, enlarge your genetalia, reduce your tax liability, and cause you to burn more calories when walking.

More importantly, these half-moon soles seem to distribute my weight more to my arches, meaning they have the potential to cure my plantar fascism, or whatever the hell it is.

Anyway, after I picked up these “toner shoes,” a 20-year-old sales clerk had me stand on this machine that detected which parts of my feet felt the most pressure. The giant computer screen attached to this wondrous device showed that most of my weight rests on the heels and balls of my feet. This amazing revelation enabled the clerk to determine which set of $70 “orthopedic” insoles she would recommend.

Did I buy them? Of course I did. This is war, after all. I need every technological edge I can get.

And some really, really thick carpeting wouldn’t hurt, either.

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