Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Differentially compressible soles

Gradually stretch your hamstrings as the heels of your shoes compress with walking
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The foam shoe-soles are made of become denser with time, some faster than others. (I refer to their permanent compaction, not that at each step.) The Hamstring-stretcher shoes have soles that grade evenly from relatively longlasting foam, near the toes, to foam that compacts to a fraction of its earlier size in six or twelve months of regular use, near the heel.

Someone with short hamstrings & insufficient stretching discipline wears these shoes to gradually, in the course of daily walking, stretch the hamstrings by standing on a progressively flatter or even lowered heel. People recovering from high heels would start with high-heeled platforms that would turn themselves into flats. People trying to get very flexible would get soles that eventually dropped the heel below the toes at every step.

Added explanation: Yes, high heels help the tendons shorten and short tight tendons make heels (or walking on your toes) more comfortable. Stretching them is relatively easy; standing on the edge of a stair and dropping your heels is enough - but you ought to do it very very regularly. Ideally, you do it after every walk that's warmed up your legs.

hello_c, Oct 16 2001

Earth Shoes http://www.earthfootwear.com/story.asp
Damn durable and foot friendly shoes. I'd have given them a croissant in their day. [reensure, Oct 16 2001]


       Always liked the sole-forward approach to walking (see link) and I really like this idea. It seems especially kind to the older foot that would take awhile to gain the flexibility to safely move into shoes with lower heels.
reensure, Oct 16 2001

       Is this (the solution to) a real problem? Does walking in high heels do this to your feet?
pottedstu, Oct 16 2001

       Maybe, but cause and effect are reversed in the people I know that could use this - some people just have shorter tendons than others and hence need raised heels just to be able to walk without pain. Think orthopedics, not women's high heels.
jutta, Oct 16 2001

       High heels, if worn regularly, can allow tendons to shrink (especially the Achilles' Tendon), thus causing all sorts of pain (been there, done that, bought flats, feel better now). It's a sort of use-it-or-lose-it scenario. If you keep your feet in a certain position for a majority of time, eventually, your body will recognize that it doesn't have to have stretchy, flexible tendons, and you won't.   

       <interesting side note> My cousin (an avid equestrian), once bought a show horse whose previous owners had deliberately allowed the back of its hooves to grow longer than the front, to give the horse a longer legged look (think women in high heels--looks sexier, right?). It ended up shortening the tendons in the horse's legs to the point where it couldn't hardly walk without pain. It took her and her farrier almost a full year of careful trimming and regular stretching exercises to return to poor beast to normal health. </interesting side note>
amo, Oct 16 2001

       Thought of another interesting side note. Comatose people have to be given daily physical therapy to prevent tendon atrophy. If they are not given therapy, the tendons will naturally shrink up, pulling the body into a permanent fetal position.   

       Well, I suppose, not entirely permanent. With enough patience and more regular PT, the body could be forced back in to shape again. Someone do some research on this. I want to see pictures! :)
amo, Oct 16 2001

       amo: I thought women's high heels were meant to make the rump jut out, which surely wouldn't apply to a horse. Poor thing. Clever of your cousin to rehabilitate it.
hello_c, Oct 16 2001

       hello_c: You might be right, I don't wear heels/look at people wearing heels enough to have noticed. I have noticed, however, that they give the appearance of a longer, sleeker leg, something human males seem to like to look at (probably why I'm still single *grin*).   

       Indeed, my cousin is quite the expert, though all the thanks she got from the horse was a surly attitude and the occasional kick.
amo, Oct 17 2001

       <TongueInCheek> Nice job [Steve DeGroof]. Completely ruined our streak. </TongueInCheek>
phoenix, Oct 18 2001

       Some do. There's always a guy at the Rennaisance Festival in Kansas City with hoof-shoes, dressed up like a satyr. It looks really cool.
amo, Oct 18 2001

       // There's always a guy at the Rennaisance Festival in Kansas City with hoof-shoes, dressed up like a satyr //   

       Someone should point out to him that satyrs were extinct 1500 years before the Renaissance.
pottedstu, Oct 18 2001


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