Staying active is a high priority for me, especially now that I’ve reached middle age, so I exercise three to four times a week and walk three times a day. (My dog insists on the latter.) However, while I know exercise is good for my body, it can take a toll on my knees, lower back, and feet, especially since I don’t always walk in proper shoes and tend to keep my sneakers on longer than I should.
So when I heard rumors about Therafit shoes designed to relieve foot, knee and back pain and approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association, I wanted to find out more about how they work and try them out for myself.
Therafit’s line of sneakers, work and casual shoes, sandals and slippers are constructed with a multi-layer construction designed to support, align and stabilize the feet. According to the company, wearing the shoes reduces excessive movement, overpronation, supination, misalignment, and strain on the feet, which can help alleviate plantar fasciitis, heel and arch pain, tendonitis, runner’s knee, shin splints, back strain, and other painful conditions.
As the company says, “If your feet are happy, your whole body is happy.”
While the multi-layered design is common to all of the brand’s shoes, personal comfort is also kept in mind through details like removable EVA orthotics (except sandals) for those who have custom orthotics, and uppers with adjustable straps or laces to accommodate bunions or other foot irregularities.
But the star of the shoe show is Therafit’s patented Personal Comfort System adapters, a trio of peg-like rubber adapters that can be added to or removed from a shock-absorbing heel wedge to adjust the level of cushioning and impact protection.
“One of the key factors in relieving pain and maximizing comfort is a shoe’s ability to absorb and distribute the shock of each stride,” says Moises Egozi, CEO of Therafit. “If you need firm support, the ideal is to keep all the inserts. If you need a soft heel ideal to take pressure off your foot, take out all the adapters. If you need a semi-rigid mount, two adapters are the key.”
Another bonus: Therafit knows that women’s feet aren’t just smaller versions of men’s feet. “Our women’s shoe molds are designed for a woman’s foot, unlike other brands that use a unisex shoe mold,” says Egozi.
What Happened After Three Weeks of Wearing Therafit Shoes
Since my main concerns are lower back pain and sore knees post-workout (especially after high-impact sessions), I decided to spend three weeks wearing the Women’s Sienna Side-Zip Athletic Casual Shoe ($150) for all my hikes and the Women’s Aria Athletic Shoe ($160) for workouts.
First of all, I have to admit that I have avoided wearing shoes with this level of support in the past because they tend to look…orthopedic. But Therafit (thankfully) has quite a few stylish picks, and I especially loved my gray leopard-print Siennas.
I can honestly say that both pairs of shoes were among the most comfortable I’ve ever worn. The first time I wore the Arias to the gym, I literally felt like I was walking on air. “Leg day” is normally my least favorite, but the cushioning the shoes gave me during squats, lunges, and wall squats felt so good that I did extra sets.
While the Sienna isn’t quite as comfortable (specific details can vary between shoe models, but they all have underlying comfort technology, Egozi says), they definitely gave me support and reduced impact when my feet hit the pavement compared to what I’m used to with other shoes. Added bonus: Sienna’s side zippers allow me to quickly get them on and off without having to tie and untie the laces.
My favorite feature was the personal comfort system adapters, which I used to customize the shoes based on my energy level and activity. If walking was my main exercise that day, I’d take out all the adapters for a challenging “minimal” feel; if he was tired or sore, the adapters would return for a more supportive walk. I used the system in a similar way for training: no adapters for boxing training where I prefer to “feel” the ground under my feet; all three adapters went in when hitting the weights (especially on leg day).
The shoes also passed their biggest test: During the three weeks, I never experienced any post-workout knee pain, and my frequent lower back pain had improved remarkably. I will continue to wear them for exercise and walking, and if my job requires me to be on my feet all day, I would definitely try these for work. Although the shoes are expensive, the adapters almost make it like you’re buying two or three pairs in one. Add in reduced pain, along with gains in comfort and support, and Therafit is a step ahead of most other brands in my book.
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