Are "ergonomic shoes" and "ergonomic sandals" the real deal?
A lot of shoe and sandal companies claim to have "ergonomic" footwear. But maybe they're trying to pull your leg. Savvy shopper beware! Leather Care takes a look at the science behind ergonomic footwear.
What differentiates an ordinary pair of sandals from an "ergonomically designed" pair? Well, a lot goes into it. Like the old saying "quality is something you have to pay for" a lot of testing, materials, and resources goes into testing the perfectly designed shoe.
What is Ergonomics anyways?
Ergonomics is the science behind making stuff more efficient and user-friendly.
Innovate, Innovate, Innovate!
Inventors and shoe companies are constantly looking for ways to innovate. Part of what makes a product stand above the rest is a better approach to solving an old problem. So while you may see complicated terms like "bio-mechanics" and "friction coefficients" to describe the comfort, wear-and-tear, and new tech that go into a product, rest assured that the people working on that product are just trying to make it better.
Take for example, the problem of arch support. We all have different arches, just as different individuals have different shaped feet. Shoe companies like Nike and Adidas spend millions of dollars on research and development, trying to find out what makes a comfortable shoe.Testing a shoe for ergonomics involves getting a representative sample of the population, and testing their feet under various conditions.
In the top-secret Nike laboratory participants run on treadmills, sweat, run on an incline - (run on a decline), and - are observed as they put the shoe or sandal to the test.
Research & Development: The science behind the ergonomics
Once a prototype is made, R&D teams test different populations to make sure that it is good for mass-market. They call participants in to the laboratory and measure a variety of metrics. Geeky terms like "stride length," "individual gait," and "friction coefficients," are measured and recorded. From these calculations come different models; from these models come more prototypes. And not all one size fits all!
Goldilocks and the 3 Sandals
Scientists do the same thing Goldilocks did. In the children's fable Goldilocks enters into the bear's home and tests 3 of everything. There is the momma bear, the poppa bear, and the baby bear. So she tests out 3 different beds, 3 different porriges etc. - until she finds the one that is just right!
Studies on Shoe Ergonomics
Scientists have to do the same thing but with the general population. They have to map out which one is "too hard," which one is "too soft," and which one is "just right." For example a study conducted in China tested the ergonomic properties of four female shoes. They tested to see the effect of the friction when walking depending on the type of floors individuals walked on. They found that high heels were unfavorable in terms of slip resistance, and required extra muscular effort to wear.
Another study found that unstable shoes increased the energy expenditure of obese patients. That is, obese individuals have to work harder - and exert more effort and more energy when walking or running - when their shoes are not ergonomic.
Shop Ergonomic Sandals Here
A full collection of footwear is available for your browsing pleasure. Be sure to look out for the ones that best match your feet, and your individual needs. Shop footwear here. Shop for insoles here!
Want to learn more about choosing the right type of insole? Click here!
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- Alex Pop