As per the above answer, shoes help protect our feet.
Properly fitted shoes also ensure that your feet can grow safely, without increased risk of foot development disorders.
Poorly fitted shoes can have a negative impact on the health of your feet, particularly in the long-term.
Therefore, shoes can only help the health of our feet if they are correctly fitted.
It is for this reason why children in particular should always have their feet properly measured. Kids shoes should be fitted taking into account both the length and width of each foot, because the bones in their feet are not fully formed until they reach the age of 18.
Failure to take into account both the length and width can therefore lead to mis-shapen feet, leading to all sorts of health risks in your child's feet, as well as all manner of spine and hip problems.
More information on shoe measuring and the importance of fitted shoes for children can be found here: http://www.startriteshoes.com/fitting/what-is-fitted-footwear
More detailed information on Podiatry (foot health in general) can be found here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_health
There are many benefits of shoes:
Physical Benefits of Shoes
In the early 1900s, there was an epidemic of hookworms in Mississippi and other rural American states. Improper sanitary facilities in combination with the lack of foot protection lead to the parasitic worm being able to bore itself into a foot in a corkscrew-like manner. Severe illness would ensue after a hookworm infection with anemia being the biggest health concern. However, an educational health campaign reinforcing the importance of wearing shoes and sanitary public facilities helped make hookworms virtually unheard of in the affected areas.
While the hookworm epidemic is no longer a concern in the U.S., today the need for proper footwear is still critical as a way of reducing the risk of certain parasitic diseases and foot infections in third world countries.
Diabetics can also be susceptible to foot infections in the form of ulcers and can lead to amputation. It is important to have proper footwear to minimize diabetic foot infections and to provide support to feet for comfort and proper healing. Other foot conditions, like bunions, Charcot foot, and corns can also be alleviated with proper foot wear.
Shoes not only help our feet to heal but can also aid in support and stability of our foot. Not all feet are perfect, so properly fitting shoes can help align your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back to correct your gait and improve posture.
Without supportive shoes, the biomechanics of the body are off causing unnecessary impact and stress on parts of your feet and knees that aren’t meant for shock absorption or pressure. This can eventually lead to back, knee and foot pain.
It is important to note that poorly fitted shoes can have a negative impact on your foot health. Accounting for the foot length and width can help prevent any foot development disorders. Keep in mind that growth spurts in children are rapid so a proper foot measurements on a regular basis is important. Replacement of shoes that no longer serve your feet as intended is necessary to maintain optimal foot conditions and protection for your feet.
The Cultural Importance of Shoes
The types of shoes worn differs from culture to culture, however, in most cultures, shoes are representative of social status or an extension of one’s self. Shoes can affect our perception of others as well as ourselves.
Certain shoes can be seen as an item of decoration for fashion and can have less to do with functionality. In the Western World, high heels or stilettos can be expressive of a women’s adulthood and sexuality. The shoes offer a sleek design while elongating their legs and changing their stance as a means for look and attraction.
However, not every culture uses shoes for fashion or a sign of wealth. There are many reasons for the use of shoes.
In South Africa, during the apartheid era, miners were not allowed to verbally talk underneath the surface in mine tunnels. For this matter, they developed a form of communication – also known as the “Gumboot Dance”- through foot taps and stamps, similar to Morse Code. The miners were forced to use Gumboots or Wellington boots as a means to obtain foot health while the miners were in the knee-high infected waters for hours daily. The Gumboots have become a cultural symbol for resistance for the South African miners.
Footwear is also used as a for ceremonies or religious devotions in various cultures. As part of the Indian culture, shoes are lavishly designed with embroidery, inlaid with precious stones and metals, and adorned with bells and tassels. The Indian culture praises the feet, so in ceremonious occasions, feet are clothed in beautiful garments for celebration and honor.
However, there are a wide range of cultural views of feet, while in America the idea of walking barefoot outside can symbolize freedom and attaching to one’s youthfulness, people in Japan perceive feet as a body part that must remain clean, so wearing shoes outdoors in necessary in their society.
The Psychological Importance of Shoes
In the 1994 movie, The Sandlot, an autographed baseball signed by Babe Ruth is knocked into a neighboring backyard that is home to a perceived vicious dog. From there, a group of young boys develop intricate plans to stealthily obtain the highly-valued baseball. All of their attempts failed, except for one that included one of the boys who hopped the fence wearing a brand new pair of P.F. Flyers that were perceived by the group to make you run faster and jump higher.
Through the P.F. Flyers, the boy’s confidence to take the feat head on increased because of his perception of the superhuman-like abilities wearing the shoes provided him. This type of perception is quite common and can not only boost the performance of a skill but can also provide benefits to the personality development of adolescents.
There is this perceived magical transformation to turn someone from ordinary to a superstar or model.
Similarly, an aspiring athlete may obtain a new pair of basketball shoes worn by their idol in an attempt to jump high or improve their jump shot, while a dancer’s first Pointe shoes may symbolize an effort to explore more deeply the art of expression through ballet.
Through perception, shoes hold value that is unique to the wearer and their environment. For example, an expensive cowboy boot with quality leather and a rugged look can invoke a perception that the wearer has a strong personality type that is independent, callused, and alienated from civilization.While shoes have a basic functional purpose with many benefits, there are also beliefs and intrinsic values that accompany them. While the lack of shoes cannot strip one of individuality nor can the lack of shoes keep a person from traveling, life is a lot easier when shoes are present. Shoes allow us to travel farther, be more expressive, improve our performance and aid in overall health. From our soles to our souls, shoes contribute a great deal to our human experience.
While shoes have a basic functional purpose with many benefits, there are also beliefs and intrinsic values that accompany them. While the lack of shoes cannot strip one of individuality nor can the lack of shoes keep a person from traveling, life is a lot easier when shoes are present. Shoes allow us to travel farther, be more expressive, improve our performance and aid in overall health. From our soles to our souls, shoes contribute a great deal to our human experience.
Good shoes, not only stop our feet from sweating too much but are providing orthotic support for healthy feet. Shoes can also enable body weight to be distributed evenly over the whole foot, providing optimal support why we are walking. That is why it is important to opt for comfortable shoes such as Birkenstock, or any other brand that is created to guide the toes and feet into correct alignment while walking.