Friday, June 17, 2022

Slippers and shedworking: Working from home footwear - Part 1

The Shedworking staff are long-term slipper-wearers (pictured above). But just how good are they for your feet? We asked podiatrist and biomechanics expert Christophe Champs, founder of the PODO Clinic and Workshop in London, for his thoughts. So here, in a two-part guest post concluding tomorrow, is what he says...

Anyone who is serious about working from home knows that it is important to assign an appropriate space as a working environment and to source the right kit. Depending on the form your work takes, that equipment may include a decent ring light and a good external camera and mic. But surrounding yourself with good tech isn’t enough. Just because you’re not in a corporate workspace you’re not absolved from putting some thought into health and safety issues, and this may see you investing in a sit and stand desk, an ergonomic chair, or even blue light glasses. If you’ve got all of that covered, well done. But take a look down – at your feet. Are those slippers you’re wearing?


Slippers are convenient, feet go in and out within seconds. But this doesn’t make them the healthiest form of footwear. Their shape is not supportive and the materials they are made of are not reinforced.


Ideally anything you have on your feet for a long period should offer proper support and protection.


Providing your feet, which make up one quarter of your skeleton, with minimal support can negatively affect your aging body (however young you are).


Slippers can also contribute to falls. And as older and more vulnerable people are the number one users of slippers and the most at risk of a fall, it is not a great combination.


The more support your shoes can give you the less unbalanced and unstable you will be, and therefore the less likely you are to slip, trip or fall. And this applies to any age group.  So, choose a pair of comfy shoes for indoor wearing that offer support and then use them as you would a comfy pair of slippers.


Slippers are the chocolate of footwear: lovely, but not good for you if you have it all day, every day. 

Lockdown lessons

The lockdowns have shown us how dangerous slippers can be for our health.


In my experience, the number of people suffering joint pain has increased since the first lockdown, and this is as a direct result of people wearing unsupportive slippers at home for long periods while working.


When travelling to the office and working with other people, most of us wear shoes, not slippers and this helps to support and cushion our feet. But take this away and swap it for spending the entire day barefoot or with slippers on a hard floor and it is no surprise that joint and foot pain has increased.


Another change is the reduction in walking when working from home. When we walk (and I mean walk, not just take a few steps) we swing our arms, and this helps to take some of the load off the feet. Walking puts around 80% off the load on your feet, whereas stepping in an enclosed space with no arm swing applies 120% of your body weight on your feet. In turn this can result in increased joint and muscle pain.


Watch out for curly toes

With every step you take in slippers, your toes are forced to grasp the slipper to lift it off the ground and carry it until your next step. This is because your heel is not grabbed by the footwear. When the heal is secured within the shoe it helps to lift the entire shoe and carry it forward even as you bend your foot.


Your forefoot is beautifully designed to change direction and adapt to uneven surfaces, but this clever skill should never be overloaded or overused in the way it is with a slip-on slipper.


Those who spend a lot of their time on their toes or using their toes to grasp as they walk, often develop toe deformities such as hammer toe and bunions. Plus, the skin under the ball of your foot, as an auto-defence, tends to build up and become hard to cope with the extra pressures applied on the area.

Part 2 of this guest post will appear on Shedworking tomorrow.


Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

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