It wasn’t long ago that gut health was an issue nobody talked about: an unspoken affliction, left unexamined and untreated, and ultimately wreaking havoc on people’s health. Now though, thankfully, we all have a general understanding of how to keep on top of our gut health, and everywhere we look there are products promising to help. But what if we told you that there’s another unspoken health issue that’s impacting the health of everyone on a day to day basis? We spoke with the person who sees the impact of this silent enemy every day, and is determined to do something about it.
Australian Sports Podiatrist Emily Smith founded Emily Braidwood with one goal in mind: to enhance the health, lifestyle and experiences of women. Drawing from her personal experience as a self-confessed shoe lover, as well as her professional experience as a musculoskeletal podiatrist, Emily has designed a range of scientifically engineered insoles to add structural support to every shoe, and prevent the myriad health issues that arise from stressed bone and tissues in the foot, ankle and leg.
“I’ve always loved beautiful shoes and have always had the philosophy of helping women to enjoy their fashionable shoes, but I was struggling to find the perfect antidote to high heel pain. Everything on the market had failed to help and custom prototypes weren’t hitting the mark. So when it came to my wedding – I was determined to dance all night in my beautiful 10cm heels. I struggled through the day, but the honeymoon aftermath was horrendous. I literally couldn’t hold on my thongs to walk because the stabilising muscles in my feet and legs were completely burnt out. So this was the light bulb moment for discovering the underlying cause of high heel pain and the Emily Braidwood design concept was born!”.
The issue of muscle overuse is the most common contributor to foot problems in women, and the knock-on effects are felt from the ankles to the shins through to the hips and lower back. Emily explained to us how poor footwear choices can cause muscle fatigue, and mapped out a few steps we can take to avoid negative consequences ourselves.
“By standing up alone, we put 1.5 times our body weight through our feet, so we’re putting a huge amount of impact through our feet every day. When we’re running or engaging in high intensity exercise, that impact is doubled, so three times our body weight is going through our feet with every step. With that amount of force, our muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints around our feet and ankles cop a huge amount of load, and when people are walking, dancing and training in shoes without appropriate support, the body has to work even harder because it’s making up for what’s lacking in the engineering in the shoe.”
“77% of the population will end up with some kind of foot pain in their lifetime, and every other day I have people in tears in my office, because foot pain can really impact our ability to live fully: to play with our kids, to do our jobs, to keep fit and healthy. I don’t think people are aware of the vital work their feet are doing behind the scenes to keep them upright… we spend more time arranging our desktop than we do looking after our feet.”
“Unfortunately people put up with foot pain for way too long, and it becomes more of a chronic issue and harder to manage. I think if we can give a voice to the feet, we could have an amazing impact on the physical health of our population: and in turn prevent the social, emotional and economic impacts that can follow as a result of foot pain”.
But Emily isn’t here to tell us all to ditch our favourite shoes and stay in sneakers around the clock.
“I firmly believe we should be able to have our cake and eat it too: that’s why I designed the insoles, so people don’t have to compromise on their style for comfort and support. I want women to pull out their oh-so cute shoes and enjoy them all night long!”.
The insoles Emily has designed are slim fitting, air-infused and scientifically engineered to improve your musculoskeletal alignment and integrity: designed to be slipped into any style of shoe from sandal to stiletto, to add immediate comfort and structural support.
We asked Emily to share more of her insights into how we can care for our feet, and, in turn, the rest of our bodies.
“Like wearing sunscreen and taking supplements, a preventative approach is always better than scrambling to find a cure. And one thing is for sure, the majority of what I see clinically could have been avoided with better supported footwear, improved training knowledge and some simple daily pre-hab exercises.”
“My first tip would be to take a look at your shoe collection, and understand the role of each shoe. Shoes I’d avoid clocking up steps in would be the shoes that overwork your feet and leg muscles: so heels, Ugg boots, thongs and dead flat shoes should be the 20%er shoes. Wear them to parties and the office, but change into something more enclosed for commuting. With those shoes that aren’t typically ‘good for you’, by adding the cushioning and support with the EB footbeds you’ve effectively changed the engineering of the shoe into something that you can wear more comfortably, for longer and more often. ”
“Another step we can take to care for our feet is exercising and stretching. So many of us stretch before and after working out, but the muscles in our feet – which we’re working out every day without even noticing – are often neglected. One easy exercise that really helps strengthen the feet and leg muscles is calf raises. You want to be on your big toes when you’re doing your calf raises, as this is the more mechanically aligned position. This exercise develops the muscles so you can stand in your shoes for longer, and it’s the most simple way of building up the endurance in our feet and leg muscles. Another really good thing to do is roll out your feet with a wine bottle or a tennis ball at the end of the day – this releases the soft tissue in the bottom of the foot which are often overworked during the day, especially in less supportive shoes”.
“The problem with modern footwear is that the engineering is just built to look good, even shoes that you think are going to be good for your feet often don’t have the structure, support or cushioning that they should have to facilitate a nice mechanical flow and alignment.”
To browse Emily’s range of sophisticated, scientifically engineered insoles, visit emilybraidwood.com
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