Part 13: Feet and Footwear

Note: this article is a bit closer to the opinion side of the scale.  Your mileage may vary.

Feet sweat.  It's one of the things that they do naturally.  If your feet sweat, and the moisture stays around your foot, you'll have problems.  These problems can range from stinky feet to blisters and fungal infections.

Of course, in this modern world, it is usually not acceptable to go barefoot, even at work, on nice carpeting.  So feet get encased in socks or stockings, and then usually in shoes which are built up out of many layers of synthetic materials and adhesives to keep the layers together.  Sometimes these shoes will have an outer layer of leather, so that you think your feet will "breathe" (exchange moisture to the air) or sometimes they have vent holes in the shoes for this purpose.  But if you still end up with damp feet, or stinky feet, you have evidence that the moisture generated by your feet is staying inside your shoe.

What can you do?  You have a couple of options, if going barefoot or in sandals is not an option.  1: Change your sock or stocking type, or 2: change the type of shoe.

The sock issue has recently been in the news, specifically as related to cotton athletic socks when worn with sneakers.  Now, after you've read this linked article, I must point out that I believe them to be somewhat in error.  Cotton *does* absorb foot perspiration.  However, if you are wearing a sneaker that lets out no moisture, it's hardly a wonder that your feet stay in a damp environment.  If you were wearing sneakers that were made of cotton canvas or had enough vents, the moisture absorbed by the cotton socks would then be vented to the air and you'd have no problems.  The article suggests a special sort of sock for use in non-venting type shoes, and I'm sure it is useful for that particular application.  But I think it is a complication caused by poor shoe design.  I have walked for long distances in cotton socks and one-layer-of-leather shoes, and not had any problems.

How do you find good shoes?

I cannot advise you on athletic shoes, but I can advise you on casual or workplace shoes.  The answer is leather; specifically, shoes that are made out of real leather, with no foam or tricot lining.  I buy my shoes from Dexter, but there are other companies that do excellent jobs as well.  You will need to examine the shoe carefully to make sure of its construction.  A good pair of soft casual women's shoes will cost $50 or more (although at the Dexter outlet in Maine, they cost $20.)  Men's will be $75- $100.  Yes, this sounds like a lot of money, if you tend to buy shoes at a big store like Wal-Mart for $25, but they will last you a very long time -- longer than the cheap shoes will.  (See the quote from Terry Pratchett in article #5)

Buy the best shoes you can afford, which aren't too trendy, so that when they last for 5 years you won't be embarrassed to wear them.  If you can only find shoes with slippery soles, you can have thin rubber applied to the soles at a shoe-repair store.  This will prevent you from slipping and falling all the time, and will help absorb walking impact stress.  Your feet will feel much better.
All material (c) 1999 Cynthia Virtue Email Author with comments
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