Feet First

Have you tried to buy runners lately? Let me rephrase that. Have you tried to buy walkers; runners; cross-trainers; or shoes for basketball, golf, tennis; or casual and lifestyle shoes; hiking and outdoor shoes; skate shoes; indoor court shoes; and shoes with cleats?

God help us all. I was in Sportchek® the other day and there were shoes as far as the eye could see. I didn’t even attempt to navigate the women’s section myself. A ’consultant’ came along to help me.

Normally I buy my shoes where I get my orthotics. It has a smaller inventory and well-trained staff who would rather lose a sale than sell me the wrong thing. But it never hurts to see what’s out there. So I found myself in three different stores.

My needs are few but not necessarily simple. A shoe with support and heel cushioning that can accommodate my orthotic. Like with most products on the market there are seasonal launches of new models and colours. Much hype usually ensues whether the changes are revolutionary or merely cosmetic. Stores then need to clear out old stock to make way for the new and improved. A shrewd shopper who doesn’t mind wearing last year’s colour can save a hundred dollars on a pair of shoes.

Ultimately I saved about forty dollars on a pair of Saucony Grid Exites. Let’s face it, no one is watching me for the latest fashion trends. If it were so, I might have bought a pair of Reeboks whose top looks like a macramé project or a pair of blue and chartreuse Asics.

I’m tickled with the silvery grey, hints of hot pink, and purple shoelaces in the pair I ended up with. Expressing our personality with shoes is harmless fun. To be sure I’ve got the right ones, structurally, I’m wearing them in the house to see if they ease my heel pain.

As if shopping for runners wasn’t traumatic enough I tried on pair after pair of Vionics at other stores. Vionics with orthaheel technology advertise a cushioned heel cup and contoured arch to combat pronation (inward rolling of the foot). With summer approaching I wanted a pair of flip-flops or dress shoes to get me through the season relatively pain-free. Birkenstocks are good but aren’t going to win any beauty pageants. I was hoping to find pumps. No luck. I did end up with a pair of black, three-strap wedge sandals that are surprisingly comfortable. I still might buy a pair of flip-flops for short wearings. The toe-clenching required to keep them on is a turn-off and exhausting. No one, but no one ever recommends flip-flops as a good footwear choice but these are the lesser of two evils. Cushioning and some arch support lessen the harm. Some styles are even quite cute. Take it from someone who knows: it’s never too early to start taking care of your feet, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.