Thanks to being mostly housebound, we've all been living in slippers or barefoot - and according to one expert, it's had a major effect on the state of our feet.
Yes, we're practically giddy about restaurants reopening, pubs allowing us to shelter from the bizarre May weather and casual sex being back on the cards, but we'll admit there are certain things we'll miss from our lockdown life.
As well as living in loungewear, unapologetically gorging on Deliveroo and catching up on Selling Sunset in our lunchbreak, we'll miss prancing around the house barefoot.
Thanks to being mostly housebound, we've all been living in slippers or going barefoot - and according to one expert, it's had a major effect on the state of our feet.
"Your feet may have inadvertently had a rest over the past year, and in turn have slowly started to reshape and adapt to a less restrictive environment at home - be that barefoot or in slippers," explained Gourgen Gevorgyan, foot expert for mahabis & Co-Founder of My Foot Function.
"Consequently, this means that you may not fit as comfortably into some of the shoes in your wardrobe, eager and waiting to be worn." If you're panicking that you'll never be able to wear the Jimmy Choos you spent December 2019's rent on again, fear not.
Gourgen says there are five simple exercises you can do at home to prepare your feet for your favourite shoes again, whether it's your impractical but aesthetically-pleasing heels or those trainers you bought for your lockdown workout regime that never quite took off.
The question is, how can we maintain the healthier, less restrictive conditions our feet have grown accustomed to from the past twelve months? How can we ensure we’re not putting too much strain on them when wearing our stylish (albeit challenging in the comfort stakes) ‘going-out’ shoes?
Here are 5 simple ways you can do exactly that...
1. Exercise barefoot
If you do low-impact activities such as strength training, yoga, pilates or walking shorter distances, doing this barefoot for progressively longer periods will greatly help you maintain and build stronger and more resilient feet.
"Just be mindful not to do too much too soon, especially if you’re coming out of the lockdown ‘hibernation’ period, as this could lead to foot cramps," warns Gourgen. "Just like the rest of our body, the muscles, tendons and joints in our feet take time to adapt to higher loads and movement."
Gourgen says if you get home and your feet are in agony after a long day, make sure to give your feet some love with foot exercises. "Educational platforms such as My Foot Function offer free exercises and advice on what to do. Or, if you don’t have time for foot-specific exercises, just spending time on your feet barefoot, or going for walks outside in shoes that free your feet is a great way to keep your feet healthy and strong."
3. Wear comfortable shoes, especially after the lockdown ‘hibernation’ period
"When delving into the science of footwear, and the correlation to pain and injury, there are many conflicting views and results. The factor most correlated with less pain and injury is the wearers perceived comfort," he explains.
According to Gourgen, it is therefor important that our footwear choices post-lockdown are appropriate for the shock of busy life - and we will need to ease slowly back into heels, wedges or formal shoes without causing ourselves an injury.
"Investing in a good pair of comfortable shoes is key. Indoor footwear brand mahabis recently launched a new slipper called the mahabis mule, designed for busy people who require convenient, comfortable footwear."
4. Listen to your body
If you feel aches in your knees, hips or back, this is commonly due to spending too many hours on your feet in improper footwear.
Contrary to popular belief, symptoms of foot dysfunction do not always manifest in the feet, but often higher up in the body. Did you know that every step you take is about x1,25 your body weight, so if you’re taking 10,000 steps per day in bad shoes, that’s over 1000 tonnes through your feet for the average weighing person. Mind. Blown.
With an increased heel height (i.e. those beloved Jimmy Choos), the loads in your knees can increase by 20% or more - that’s an additional 200 tonnes of force. Over time this leads to increased wear and tear of the joints and can develop into chronic pain.
5. Spend more time on variable terrain
"The surfaces we walk on are often very predictable; flat and symmetrical, this provides us with stability and efficiency in movement. However, spending too much time on surfaces that are too predictable doesn’t challenge you in a way that is necessary for us to be able to maintain a healthy body," he explains.
"Our body has evolved for movement through constantly variable terrain, hence why our feet are so malleable! Restrictive shoes have a similar effect on the foot, ultimately reducing its capacity to create an even and broad surface area for distributing your body weight over these surfaces."
So how do we fix that? If you are spending long hours walking, standing and running on hard, even surfaces, make sure to give your feet a break and slip on some comfortable footwear when you get home.
This originally appeared on GLAMOUR UK | Bianca London