What Is ‘Functional Footwear’?

Functional footwear goes beyond just fashion; it's about supporting your feet and overall foot health. But what exactly is functional footwear, and why does it matter?

In this blog post, we'll explore the concept of functional footwear, its benefits and provide valuable guidance on selecting the right footwear and support for different activities and foot conditions - including the role of custom orthotics.

What is Functional Footwear?

Functional footwear is designed with the specific purpose of providing support, stability and protection for your feet during various activities. Unlike fashion-focused shoes, functional footwear prioritises functionality over style (although some modern designs can marry the two!). From running shoes engineered to absorb impact to work boots designed for optimal foot protection, functional footwear aims to promote foot health and prevent injuries.

Benefits of Functional Footwear

Investing in functional footwear offers several benefits for your foot health and overall well-being. These include:

Improved Support

Functional shoes are designed to provide adequate support to different parts of your feet, including the arches, heels and toes. This support helps maintain proper foot alignment and reduces the risk of strain and injury.

Enhanced Comfort

With features like cushioned insoles, breathable materials and ample toe room, functional footwear prioritises comfort, allowing you to stay on your feet for longer periods without discomfort or pain.

Injury Prevention

By providing the right support and cushioning, functional footwear can help prevent common foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints and stress fractures. It also reduces the risk of developing more chronic foot conditions over time. However, environmental and/or physiological factors must be considered.

Activity-Specific Design

Functional footwear is tailored to the demands of different activities, whether you go hiking, cycling or play a lot of tennis, it’s important to wear sport / activity appropriate shoes to ensure your feet are adequately covered and supported during specific movements and tasks. I.e., don’t go ballroom dancing wearing Latin American shoes and vice versa!

Choosing the Right Footwear

Selecting the appropriate footwear for your needs involves considering various factors, including your foot type, size, activity level and any existing foot conditions. Here are some tips from our team for choosing functional footwear:

Get Professionally Fitted

Visit a reputable shoe shop where trained professionals can assess your foot type and size to recommend suitable options.

Consider Your Activity

Choose footwear designed for the specific activities you engage in regularly. For instance, if you spend long hours on your feet at work, prioritise shoes with excellent support and comfort features tailored for prolonged standing or walking.

Check for Proper Fit

If you’re not being professionally measured, ensure that your shoes fit comfortably with enough room for your toes to wiggle and no pinching or rubbing. Avoid shoes that are too tight or too loose, as they can cause discomfort and blisters.

Inspect Shoe Construction

Look for features such as arch support, cushioned midsoles and durable outsoles. Pay attention to the materials used and the overall construction quality of the shoes.

Value for Money

Remember that quality footwear is an investment. While it may come with a higher price tag, the benefits in terms of comfort, support, and longevity often outweigh the initial cost. Quality construction means your shoes are likely to last longer, saving you money in the long run and sparing you from discomfort or potential foot issues.

Biomechanical Assessment and Insoles

At Forest Foot and Health Clinic, we offer comprehensive biomechanical assessments to evaluate your foot function and address any underlying issues. Alongside therapies like extra-corporeal shockwave therapy, suitable insoles can also be provided to offer targeted support and aid in the recovery process of common foot issues, such as flat feet, high arches, or plantar fasciitis - helping you return to your activities more quickly and comfortably than rehabilitation alone.

By choosing footwear and additional support tailored to your needs and activities, you can enjoy a multitude of benefits, including improved comfort, performance and overall well-being.

For more advice on selecting the right support for your specific needs and requirements, book an appointment at our New Forest podiatry clinic. Click here or call 02380 814903 to schedule your visit.