I don’t know for how long memory foam shoes have been around. But they’ve become quite trendy and popular in the footwear arena, with Sketchers being the well-known brand that designs some of the best models in its class. The question is, just how safe and good are they for your feet?
Ever since the first Sketchers memory foam model appeared to this day, these sneakers have remained a double-edged-sword, with many of us taking to either side of the coin.
Some people believe these shoes are comfortable because they contour to the form of your feet. Others stand with the reason that the comfort and support these shoes offer is only temporary, that these shoes could be the cause of many serious foot injuries.
So what’s the consensus?
- Are they safe for your feet and good enough for walking?
- Can you use them for running?
- Are they good enough for plantar fasciitis?
- Or should you just never bother to buy them and look elsewhere instead?
Well, let’s find out together.
What are Memory Foam Shoes?
Whenever someone mentions the phrase “memory foam”, the first thing that comes to mind is a material soft to the touch.
And that’s exactly what memory foam shoes are.
Primarily, memory foam is made of polyurethane and a combination of a number of chemicals to boost density. And its ability to mold to the shape of your feet is what makes it a lot more popular in the footwear niche.
And here’s the thing:
I’ve learned that while memory foam means more comfort, that comfort is, in fact, relative – and even subjective.
Some people find these shoes to be so comfortable even after a couple of months of use. To others, that comfort only lasts for so long, with possible discomfort setting in only after a few days.
To understand whether they amount to anything, it’s important that we look at the advantages and the disadvantages of these shoes.
Reasons Why Memory Foam Shoes are Good or Bad for Your Feet
Before we look at the common problems that we have with memory foam shoes, let’s first look at the benefit of wearing them in the first place.
Distribution of Balance
I haven’t worn this type of shoes for long, although I do have two pairs myself. But I’ve come to understand and experience their even distribution of balance.
And to that the fact that they provide a mattress-like comfort to your feet and what you get for the price point is a footwear persona that’s nearly as good for walking and running.
Ease of Pressure
As you walk in these shoes, you’ll experience an ease of pressure, especially at the ball of your feet.
This will make it easier for you to log miles of walking, while keeping pressure impact from the ground you step on to the minimum.
The best thing is that the impact between your feet and the ground isn’t intense when you walk. It’s a lot less compared to what you experience when running.
Heel Shock Absorption
If you’re a keen footwear maniac, you must have observed that memory foam insoles are quite popular these days.
And the reason?
They provide an additional layer of support while improving the overall comfort of shoes.
And it’s no wonder memory foam walking shoes are good at absorbing heel shock while providing extra stability as you walk. So I think they’re useful shoes to wear if you have foot pain.
These happen to be the most flexible and lightweight sneakers in the market.
They have a mesh upper that features no stitching, which means they can easily accommodate a wide range of feet sizes.
Because of their wide fitting design, your toes don’t cramp against the material, which is why they may be useful for people who suffer from bunion.
And as I said, they’re cushioned enough to contour to the shape of your feet, which is sure to give you a feeling of comfort as you go about your daily activities.
The Disadvantages of Memory Foam Shoes
Now that you know why memory foam shoes may be good for you, it’s time to look at why they may not be the kind of sneakers to buy for long-term use.
So here we go:
They Aren’t the Most Stable
In theory, walking and running shoes need to offer as much stability as possible. But that’s not often the case with memory foam sneakers.
Take them for a test run, and it takes only a short time to realize that they offer minimal heel stability, and this can be problematic for people whose heels roll in excessively.
One of the obviously noticeable features of memory foam design is the use of the same density from the heel to the toe. This doesn’t give you much stability in the midsole section.
Again, the same thickness allows the feet to flex without control. So these aren’t possibly perfect for people who overpronate.
In a way, even the mesh upper can be an inconvenience to some people. While their slip-on design makes for an easy on and off, the lack of a lacing system makes them hard to adjust to a secure fit.
So if you must wear these shoes, make sure the pair you choose fits straight out of the box.
These Shoes Retain Heat
Perhaps the biggest problem with memory foam shoes is their tendency to retain heat. This isn’t a good thing even for the most typical footwear.
If you think about it, shoes are designed to breath. Without a breathable mechanism, it becomes hard for the feet to breathe, not to mention keep cool and dry.
So while these shoes are light, cushioned, and easy to use, they’re too terrible to use for running due to lack of breathability.
And this brings us to the next problem:
These Shoe Generate Sweat and Cause Discomfort
The inability of memory foam shoes to breathe means your feet will sweat, especially if you use them under hot weather. And the more your feet sweat, the more uncomfortable walking or running in these shoes get.
With more sweat comes odor. Add to this the fact that too much sweat creates a heat zone that creates a breeding ground for blisters and spots, and memory foam shoes become the most uncomfortable for walking or running.
The good thing is that you can keep these shoes from generating sweat and smelling awful.
And you do that in two ways:
First, get only the latest release of memory foam shoes. Second, clean the shoes every time you take them off, and make sure you air-dry them before you put them on again.
How to Correctly Use Memory Foam Shoes
It’s fine to use memory foam shoes for walking and running, but you need to do so with a few consideration in mind:
First, you shouldn’t wear this type of shoes on a daily basis because they’re not suitable for prolonged standing, running, or walking.
It’s fine to wear them to short distance walk, and there’s nothing wrong with putting them to occasional use.
However, because they have the same density from the heels to the toes, they tend to put too much strain on your ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Hence, they aren’t suitable for everyday use.
If you must use memory foam shoes for fitness walking, do so with moderation. After all, you don’t want your fitness program to end up messier when you’re barely halfway done.
Their ability to ease stress on the plantar ligament makes them ideal for plantar fasciitis. But you still shouldn’t use them all day every day.
My Last Thoughts on Memory Foam Shoes
For what it’s worth, the structure of memory foam shoes makes them useful only to some degree.
In other words:
Memory foam shoes are only suitable for short distance, occasional walks. Put them to long distance trekking or cross training and they become complete useless and uncomfortable to use.