I was in Next the other day, not really looking for shoes, but having ended up in that section deciding to explore, when I noticed something strange about a pair of shoes I tried on.
Let me start by saying that I don’t really like Next shoes very much, I find them unusually uncomfortable and never very soft: they always look better than they feel. However, when you have arthritis, it can be a total faff to be continuously bothering assistants to try on more shoes because the last ten pairs weren’t quite right (as I have mentioned, I don’t really like bringing the arthritis up with shop assistants… I’m not sure why). Next has rows of shoes (especially flat shoes) hanging up in different sizes so you can conveniently try on as many pairs as you like without having to ask anyone else. I like this set-up, especially when the potato-ankle is feeling particularly irksome because that usually makes me quite grumpy too.
I was very much drawn to this pair because I love leopard:
I know leopard can have certain Bet Lynchesque connotations, but if you keep the rest of your outfit toned down, it’s a total game changer because it’s quite literally the best pattern ever, and in small quantities (like on your shoes) it can make your outfit come to life:
These shoes are super flat and I was expecting to immediately hate them; however, I instantly noticed that I wasn’t overpronating as much as I normally would in shoes this flat and unsupportive. There was no support to hold my ankle in place but, even when I walked around, my feet stayed more neutral than I expected.
So, what is going on? Well, if you look at the shoes, you will see that the outside is totally open, whereas there is a closed part of the shoe on the inside. I think, by having the outside open and the inside closed, my feet want to fall into the gap on the outside, and on me this actually helps me to correct my position. I’m not sure whether there is any true support on the inside or just that my skin registers that there is something there, and it gives a stimulus that makes me subconsciously shift my weight away from it but, even if it is all in my head, it still kind of works.
To test whether the shoes really were helping (I have a science background, I can’t help it), I tried these shoes, which have open sections on the inside and the outside of the shoe and didn’t find the same effect, so I think it’s having the one-sided shoes that helps to push the balance of my feet to the outside. (These other shoes were also really uncomfortable on the heels as there is no strap to keep them on).
The one-sided shoes also come in patent navy and suede-like cream colours, but they didn’t have the soft fabric over the toes and weren’t very comfortable. Leopard wins hands down. I am not saying the leopard shoes were like wearing running trainers or that I could wear these for hours and my joints wouldn’t be struggling, but every so often people need or want to wear smarter, strappier or just more elegant shoes than their regular ‘arthritis-friendly’ shoes, and having shoes that help my ankle to feel better even a little bit are worth buying over others that don’t, especially when they look pretty cool.
So either I’ve discovered something amazing regarding ankles and shoes (the Nobel Committee can get in touch by clicking on the profile button. I promise to spend the Nobel prize money on
shoes furthering my research into shoes) or I might have completely lost the plot, but either way, at £26, these shoes aren’t too bad at all.