Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

October 4, 2013

Greed leads to failing feet

GLASGOW — It’s already difficult to find shoes that fit my feet.                                            

People who know me well almost always quickly decline looking at footwear with me for this reason, although my sister who has braved it a few times would say I’m also too finicky. That’s a whole other issue.

Typically, I wear a size 5, but there have been times – mostly when I was considerably younger and typically with sandals and dressier shoes – when a children’s size 4 was on the verge of being too big. Some types of shoes that are more enclosed – like athletic shoes and boots – generally needed to be a larger size.

Sizes 5 and 6 are less common in stores, so the selection tends to be smaller. And to top that, the “wide” designation has become more of a requirement as I’ve aged.

Through the years, I’ve observed that arch supports as part of the product seem to be going the way of the dinosaur. It’s virtually impossible to find them now. This may not be true for high-end shoes out of my price range, but I wouldn’t know.

As I noticed this approaching extinction of what I consider a vital part of a shoe, I came to a conspiracy-theorist-type conclusion: Most shoe companies must have unethical podiatrists as their owners, shareholders. Or they are getting kickbacks from insole producers.

Then again, they could be just flat greedy. But the other scenarios are more interesting.

I understand that making shoes that actually fit the shape of a foot – what a concept – may cost a bit more, but is it really that much more? Is it really so much more difficult? Call me naïve, but I doubt it.

That’s how I came up with this idea of podiatrists’ being involved.

After all, they stand to make a lot more money if the bottoms of shoes are across-the-board flat and consumers start having a lot more achy dogs.

I’ve had several jobs where I’ve had to be on my feet almost continuously for eight hours, usually on concrete floors with only thin, vinyl tile or low-cut carpet in between. I was fortunate in some that I could wear tennis shoes, but for others, the shoes had to be at least a tiny bit dressier. And I was fortunate in that these were indoor jobs. Regardless, my feet sometimes ached so much I could barely stand by the end of the shift.

When my feet are in that much pain, it seems all of me hurts and sometimes it makes my tummy woozy.

My point here is not to complain about my foot pain, which I have much less often with my current occupation, but to illustrate just how important it is to have good shoes that properly support the components of the foot – like the arch. It should be the standard, not the exception, and not only for people who can shell out big bucks (if indeed, it really is even available to them).

This is one time that I’d really like to be wrong. I want my theory to be preposterous. I want it to be that not only the vast majority of podiatrists – but all of them – are ethical and they desire for their patients to have affordable shoes that are good for them. I want to believe that they would push the shoe design and manufacturing industries to do what’s better for their customers and not what’s just the cheapest. Their customers would appreciate them in the long run.

Ethical podiatrists, unite! Combine any influence you have to affect change and make arch supports join the ranks of other apparel and accessory trends where what was old becomes new again, except with one difference: Let’s make this trend permanent.

Melinda J. Overstreet is a staff writer for the Glasgow Daily Times. She can be contacted by e-mail at moverstreet@glasgowdailytimes.com

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