Ignored by the majority of the population a shoe horn has two functions: it protects your foot from your shoe and it protects your shoe from your foot. While those may sound mutually exclusive consider the typical pair of running shoes. Most athletic shoes have a padded collar along the rim of the shoe upper. Repeatedly jamming your foot into your shoe moves the protective padding down towards the heel cup. This redistribution can force your foot forward in the shoe which may make it too small for you. I have also seen shoes whose backs have split because their owner did not employ a shoe horn.

Now that we've discussed what avoiding the shoe horn can do to a shoe let's talk about what can happen to your foot should you shun this lowly object. New shoes that have not been broken in have whatever shape the manufacturer determined they should have. With wear the collar of a properly fitted shoe will curve to accomodate the shape of whatever foot is inside the shoe. Using a shoe horn helps relax the back of a shoe while saving your back, fingers, feet and protecting your shoes.

Shoe horns help preserve shoe collar integrity which maintains the shape and stiffness of your shoe. The collar of a well made shoe holds your rear foot inside of your shoe, once that has been compromised your ankles lack that support. Very few people I know sit down to don their shoes. Donning your shoes while seated allows you to visually inspect your shoes. Before donning a shoe examine it to see how it is holding up. This is a good time to check if your shoes are in need of repair, replacement or cleaning.

Properly cared for, well maintained shoes that have been sized and rotated appropriately have a much longer life span than shoes that are kicked off, tossed in a pile and allowed to accumulate dust, dirt and excessive wear. Bending at the waist to don shoes strains your lower back which is why some people resort to shoving their foot into a shoe. People with back problems may benefit from using a long handled shoe horn and donning their shoes while seated.

Using a shoe horn extends the life of a shoe, it preserves the shape of the shoe, and it protects your foot from the materials that were used to construct the shoe. It also keeps your hands clean. Historic data reveals that children are hard on the backs of their shoes. Show your children how to use a shoe horn and set a good example by using one yourself. Keep one in your gym bag and alternate your athletic shoes so they have adequate dry time in between workouts.

So far you have learned that using a shoe horn is generally a good idea since a shoe horn facilitates donning. Some shoes have been designed so that your foot will fit into them only if you have a shoe horn. During donning your foot should glide effortlessly into a shoe providing that it has been properly fitted. If you can not quickly and easily don shoes with the aid of a shoe horn that shoe may not be right for you. Shoe horns ought to rest against the inside collar of a shoe for seconds. At no point in time should the shoe horn remain inside the shoe while the person donning a shoe shoves it into the flooring.

Shoe horn storage may be a concern for those who fear their loss. A shoe horn ought to be in your hand before you pick up your shoe, sticking it in the pair you plan to wear means you'll never lose it and it will always be there for you. If you do lose one they are easily replaced unless you lost a specialty shoe horn or a family heirloom in which case your loss is personal rather than functional.

To recap: Shoe horns are a necessary piece of equipment for those seeking to optimize their footwear experience. They are lightweight, inexpensive and help protect your foot. Shoe horns help break in the collar so it can cup your heel when you walk. They are hygienic and help extend the life of a shoe by preventing destruction of the shoe upper. Using a shoe horn facilitates shoe donning. Shoe horns are practical, affordable and available almost everywhere. Shoe horns: continuous protection for the feet and shoes of the well shod.

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