Ergonomics Wednesday – 17 – Your Ergonomics Have to Have Sole

Lately I’ve been writing about the ergonomics of writing implements, hand tools, yard tools and even cookware. I’ve been doing these less obvious topics to continue expanding on the idea of ergonomics being about more than your desk chair, keyboard and mouse (although I have written about all of those things), it is:

an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely

— called also biotechnologyhuman engineeringhuman factors

Because of this, ergonomics is an entire field of engineering. No, seriously, you can get a degree in this stuff. Ergonomists apply psychology and physiology to design, with the intent to make products, processes and systems easier and safer to work with, resulting in greater safety, comfort and productivity.

So, what about the terrible pun in the headline? I mean, there’s got to be a terrible pun in the headline, right?

Well, yes.

We spend a lot of time on our butts. Actually, we spend waaaayyyyy too much time on our butts. This neglects our feet, and when we do get up and actually use our feet, we tend to abuse them terribly. We stick them in little flat bottomed boxes, without having trained their muscles to proper use. We get collapsing arches, along with sore ankles and knees.

Shoes are terrible things.

Think about some of the terrible things we call shoes, and think about how thoroughly uncomfortable those shoes often are.

I can only speak for me, and I have found that the vast, Vast, VAST majority of shoes come out of the box completely ill suited for long-term use.

Fortunately, there are solutions to this little problem.


If you have to wear stiff soled leather shoes for work, then buy yourself a high quality pair of custom orthotics. Don’t have company benefits? Suck it up and buy them anyway. The comfort for your feet, and long term benefits to your ankles, knees, hips, back and posture cannot be overstated.

Athletic Insoles

Truly don’t have the money for custom orthotics? There are lots of over the counter athletic insoles that will do nearly as well. Some are stiff like orthotics. Some are silicon rubber, some are gel packs, some are memory foam. All of them are an improvement over the insole provided by the shoe companies.

Memory Foam Sneakers

Speaking of memory foam, you can get slip on sneakers whose soles are made of memory foam. If they’re not dressy enough for work, you can still use them as home slippers. In fact, that’s what I do, and I’m wearing a pair of them right now.

Running Shoes

If you can, and if you can afford it, there are running shoe companies who put very good insoles in their high-end runners. I’m using a pair of Saucony runners at the moment, and they are the first pair of shoes for which I haven’t replaced the manufacturer’s insole in 28 years. They were spendy bastards, but worth it. Luckily, my lovely bride got them at an outlet going out of business sale, for 75% off.

Now, generally what I’m talking about here are men’s shoes. Fortunately for you ladies, even for your heels, this advice still applies. When my wife got a new pair of work shoes, she also bought peel and stick, gel pack arch and heel supports to make them more comfortable.

As to your sports type footwear, well, that’s a tale for another day.