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Orthopedic ShoesFor too long, orthopedic and comfort footwear has suffered the stigma of being "problem shoes." The truth is that lots of people wear them (of all ages) to enjoy the two things shoes are made for protection and comfort. Of course, fashion is always a plus. These days, it's a built-in option.

No matter who you are, an ill-fitting pair of shoes will live up to the name. Simple discomfort is the least of the problems they can cause. Chronic pain from wrong-sized shoes doesn’t just stop at the feet; the ankle, knee, and leg can all suffer.

Comfort shoes are used to treat several podiatry ailments ranging from bunions and flat feet to arthritis and diabetes. In the past, orthopedic shoes didn't place fashion as a, particularly high priority. Fast forward to now and consumers are seeing a much wider range of shoes that also look good while doing good work.

The mechanics of comfort shoes

There's some shoe science at play before you can step out in safety. The four aspects of the foot (dorsal, plantar, lateral and medial) all present their own set of challenges.

To name only a few, the dorsal (upper surface of the foot) can endure stress fractures common in runners. Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of pain on the underside. Lateral foot pain affects the outside of the ankle while medial affects the inside of the foot.

Uppers, extra-width sizing, heel support, specialized fasteners and cushioned/removable soles and insoles; all steps in the evolution of orthopedic shoes. One or more of these can be used to ensure the maximum possible comfort and mobility. All these measures have taken strides in technology that allow the modern shopper to add some style to the science.

Healthier than heels

The College of Podiatry really gives meaning to the term "killer heels". High heels add pressure to the foot, ankle, and knee and one in five women feel pain within ten minutes of wearing them. Three inches or less is the ideal medically recommended heel height, but fashion can sometimes demand ladies go higher at the cost of their health.

Looking good doesn’t have to be so expensive. Simple elements can be used in orthopedic shoe design alongside the most advanced foam technologies and gels to create footwear that's feminine and foot-friendly.

Old and new

Cork is as simple as shoe technology gets. It's an ancient way of making heavy things light. When tucked into a shoe, it helps handle body weight while assisting foot alignment and arch support. Cork's natural elasticity makes it an ideal shoe component for impact resistance. As a natural and renewable resource, it's in line with the environmental responsibilities of the most eco-conscious companies.

Open cell foam technology is today's man-made shock absorber. Thin and flexible, this combination of polyurethane and recycled rubber can be invisible inside a shoe, providing comfort and control with no impact on the design aesthetic.

Today, the shoes exist that combine all this technology with fashion.

The ETHEM range - function and fashion

As a family-owned and operated company, we've spent four generations developing the highest quality of footwear. The craft of making shoes is only part of our work: thinking outside of the box with design and manufacturing techniques matters too. Our manufacturing process must be as healthy as our product and so how our creations impact the environment is another priority.

The fruits of the ETHEM craft are seventeen options of stylish orthopedic sandal and strap shoes where appearance matters as much as comfort.  Our unique range provides them in multiple sizes and design combinations and with built-in insoles for your comfort.

ETHEM designs offer classic chic with shades of blacks and browns along with more vibrant and unique prints and colors. Beneath the exterior is the FLOT system: our own patented construction method for unrivaled shoe comfort.

FLOT offers a gel-filled heel that puts a bounce in your step. The gel combines with Italian soles twice as strong as normal rubber soles. Our Made in Spain options are 100% natural cork footbed sandals anatomically designed for maximum benefits.

A further layer of toe technology

Our shoes also incorporate Ortholite between the leather sock lining and the cork insole. This lets your entire foot gain a permanent cushion as well as a means of defusing heat and absorbing moisture (two major causes of foot discomfort).

Why Ortholite? Firstly, they believe not only in footwear engineering but also in design. They're global leaders who provide insoles with lasting cushioning and fit, optimum breathability and temperature management: three reasons why ETHEM shoe construction layers Ortholite three times.

Equally important, their foot technology isn't at the expense of the environment. They provide a sustainable product by replacing petroleum elements with bio-oil; a major factor which aligns with our own ecological ideals.

As technology moves forward, the modern orthopedic shoe continues to be a combination of elements. Natural components like cork and leather will meet with the latest scientific results of insole development. Bringing it all together are the companies working constantly to improve the end results, all while providing buyers with effective foot care solutions worth a place in their wardrobe.

Some further resources

Are your feet feeling any kind of discomfort? You may want to try this foot pain identifier to learn more about what could be causing it. The Institute for Preventative Foot Health also offers informative articles on a wide range of podiatric issues.

Interactive tools can be educational but remember to always consult a qualified medical professional about all aspects of your health before taking any action. This online resource may help you find the right care near you.

At ETHEM we're devoted to fine craftsmanship and constant innovation in both design and manufacture. An exclusive distributor of women’s European fashion shoes, our team scout the fashion capitals of the world, creating new products to bring to the North American market. Check out our range of stylish yet comfortable sandals designed to keep you looking good and feeling great.

Natural Cork Sandals Are the Best Choice for Healthy, Happy Feet on ethemshoes.comThe world’s cork trees can’t keep up with our thirst for wine, but there’s certainly more than enough to be harvested for cork footbed sandals. Your feet will appreciate the choice.

Synthetic cork may be the best thing that ever happened to a bottle of wine, but it’s not what you want your sandals made out of. Cork sandals are gorgeous, and they’re just as kind to the environment as they are to the health of your feet.

But, to understand why the better choice for cork is on your feet as a pair of scandals – and not protecting a bottle of wine until its ready for drinking – it’s necessary to take a closer look at the synthetic stuff. Don’t worry, we’ll walk our way back to real cork and your sandals.

Global thirst

It’s estimated that by 2021, global consumption of wine will surpass 2.66 billion 9-liter cases. What’s more, China is expected to become the second largest market for wine, behind the United States.

Imagine if each of those bottles needed a cork.

Almost 90 percent of the natural cork for wine bottles comes from the Iberian Peninsula – especially Portugal. The cork is harvested from Quercus suber, the cork oak tree. Portugal has always been aware of this treasure. Laws regulated the stripping of these trees by hand and restricted it to only once every nine years.

These trees were treated with such respect that it was forbidden to harvest specimens less than 40 years old. Such care was taken during the stripping process that it wasn’t unusual to come across trees that had been harvested for the past 200 years.

The international demand for this cork has, unfortunately, persuaded Portugal to relax its stringent laws protecting cork trees. Today, these trees can be stripped every four to five years – twice as quickly as before.

It’s believed that this has impacted the health of these trees, and it has reduced the quality of the cork.

Enter the synthetic cork

It was necessary to find an alternative. There was no way the world’s existing cork trees could continue to supply enough to make corks for all the wine we’re drinking – even as more winemakers switch to screw tops.

The industry has, for the most part, embraced the synthetic cork. It’s generally made of ethylene-vinyl acetate, and it has several advantages. Because it’s made of an inert material, it’s not possible for these synthetic corks to transfer fungus or microbes to the wine. Synthetic corks also create a better seal, preventing the wine from oxidizing.

Good news for your feet

The world’s cork trees can’t keep up with our thirst for wine, but there’s certainly more than enough to be harvested for cork footbed sandals. Your feet will appreciate the choice.

In its natural state, cork is relatively soft. It’s compacted for use as a shoe sole, but when subjected to your body weight and heat, the cork insoles mold themselves to your feet. Nothing comes close to giving you a true custom form-fitting shoe. That’s important if you need arch support and foot alignment.

Cork floats, and it’s a moisture repelling material. Foot odor is caused by bacteria that thrive on the moisture inside your shoes. Cork sandals simply don’t have this problem.

If you’re on your feet all day, you’ll truly appreciate the practicality of cork footbed sandals. Cork’s natural elasticity reduces the transfer of impact force to your ankles, shins, and knees. Depending on the design of the sole, you may even see a dramatic reduction of foot pain because of cork’s ability to hold your heel and foot in orthopedically correct positions.

So, leave the synthetic cork for wine bottles. It’s a responsible choice that will reduce the need to harvest natural cork trees sooner than they’re ready. At ETHEM, we’re devoted to fine craftsmanship and constant innovation in both design and manufacture. To find out the variety of cork footbed sandals we offer, please visit our site.