Why all the excitement on alignment?
The Microwobbleboard™ midsole in our very first – and recently reissued – sandal, the Walkstar, (and many of our styles since) is engineered to optimise joint alignment. But what does that mean and why does it matter? We asked our in-house biomechanist Dr Kim Lilley to enlighten us:
First of all, what exactly is ‘alignment’?
Dr Kim. Alignment refers to the position of the body. It considers the position of each joint and how this affects function – meaning the ability of your body to do what you want it to do, whether that’s walking, standing still, bending down, running…
What makes for good alignment?
Dr Kim. Good alignment refers to your joints and limbs being positioned in the ideal way for natural function of all movements.
When you walk, a force goes from your body downwards, and in equal measure a force from the ground (called Ground Reaction Force) comes up your body*. Or, when you hit the floor, the floor hits you back! Good alignment of the body means that this Ground Reaction Force travels through the right place. If you’re out of alignment, the force might be centred in an area that isn’t designed to take it and causes wear on that area – repetitive walking with bad alignment can then be a major contributor to discomfort.
So take your knee joint, for example, in perfect alignment the Ground Reaction Force goes straight through the middle of it. But if your knee is badly aligned, say it’s bending to one side, the force will travel through one side of the joint. Over time, it won’t feel great.
*Those of you who can remember back to your physics classes at school may recognise this as Newton’s Third Law of Motion: ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction’.
How can the Microwobbleboard help to optimise your body’s alignment?
Dr Kim. When we test our footwear technologies, we specifically look at indicators of alignment of the lower body and back (including pressure distribution underfoot, position of joints, comfort). These show how well or badly the walker’s body is aligned. The Microwobbleboard is engineered to enable you to find your own individual natural walking gait, and work with your natural alignment. The triple-density midsole and contouring on the footbed will help increase the feeling of stability and support.
In general, comfort is a great indicator of good alignment in your body, and the Microwobbleboard excels at comfort even over prolonged periods of time.
What impact does good alignment have on our bodies?
Dr Kim. Good alignment means your body is positioned for ideal functionality: you are in the best position for whatever you want to do. Walking with poor alignment uses extra effort, and will cause discomfort over time (you might not feel the need to take your Microwobbleboard shoes off!).