Converse are not known for their comfort but are more of a style statement. They are good for specific tasks like lifting weights but are not a great choice for walking long distances. In fact, a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Association called them a “glorified sock.”
As such an iconic shoe, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know what Converse are. Considered the “Coca-Cola” of shoes, the Converse All Stars were first made popular by basketball player Chuck Taylor.
He had such a knack for getting fellow professional players to wear the shoes on the court, the company later renamed the shoes in his honour.
By the 1960s, Converse had captured around 80% of the basketball shoe market, but they were soon dethroned by alternative brands in the 1970s.
However, their lost popularity in the basketball scene didn’t make the shoes disappear from the mainstream. As the years went by, Converse All Stars became a solid favourite amongst numerous groups and subcultures.
In the seventies, the Ramones popularised the shoes amongst the punk scene. It was seen as rebellious to wear sneakers outside of the gym, so wearing Chuck Taylor’s was kind of a way of “sticking it to the man”.
It wasn’t just the punk scene that adopted chucks. In the 80’s and 90’s the shoes were a wardrobe staple for the hip-hop scene. Rapper Ice Cube said the shoes fit in well with the raw, hard-core street feel that his rap group N.W.A. wanted to achieve.
They’ve also always proved a popular costume choice for film and television over the years. Back in 1969, Elvis Presley wore chucks in Change of Habit, and they’ve been spotted in film and television ever since.
Today Converse All Stars are still one of the most popular sneakers across the world. Their simple design and affordability make them accessible to all. From red carpets and award shows, to skateboarding and deadlifting – Converse are one of the most adaptable sneakers.
But are they good for our feet?
Despite Sylvester Stallone wearing them during the iconic Rocky running scene, Converse Chuck Taylor’s might not be the best athletic shoes…
What Podiatrists Think About Converse
You’d think this once great basketball shoe would provide the ultimate comfort and support, but you’d actually be mistaken. Converse don’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to providing good support to your feet.
What do podiatrists (foot doctors) actually have to say about converse?
Well, Dr. Alex Kor, president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, said that the most important feature in any shoe is the shank, which is the supportive structure between the heel and the toe. Dr. Kor, said that people are more likely to have foot pain if their shoes bend in the shank.
But how do we test a shoe’s shank?
You can do this by bending your shoe. The more rigid the sole stays, the less likely you are to have foot pain. If you’ve ever tried to bend the sole of a Chuck Taylor, you know how easily it can bend.
A spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association called Converse nothing more than a “glorified sock”, suggesting that they provided no support or stability and had next to no shock absorption.
Ultimately, Converse are flat shoes which offer minimal arch support or cushioning. Wearing them regularly could result in arch pain, heel pain and tendinitis (swelling of your tendons). A lot of podiatrists don’t recommend wearing Converse if you’re going to be walking a long distance over a long period of time.
However, not all is lost! There are ways you can make Converse more “feet friendly”.
How to Make Your Converse More Comfortable
- Loosen Them Up: Only loosening the tops of the laces won’t really do anything. Make sure you’re loosening the laces all the way down to the bottom. Not only will it be easier to slip your foot in and out of the shoes, it’ll give your feet more room inside the shoes.
- Get Some New Socks: If you want to provide more comfort for your feet in flat shoes, stop wearing old, worn out socks! Update your sock collection by opting for cushioned socks. These will provide some extra cushioning around your heels and the balls of your feet.
- Buy Insoles: One of the best fixes for an uncomfortable shoe is to use insoles. Insoles provide an extra layer of support between your feet and the ground. For flat shoes like Converse, you might want to opt for gel cushion insoles, as the gel technology helps relieve fatigue and keeps your feet feeling energized.
- Wash Them: At first, the fabric of your Converse will be quite stiff and rigid. There’s a chance you’ll get blisters until you’ve really worn them in. To speed up the “wearing-in” process, chuck your cons in the wash to soften the fabric.
What Converse are Actually Good For
Converse aren’t just good for adding a cool, laid-back touch to your outfit. In recent years, powerlifting athletes have embraced Converse as the perfect shoe to wear for their sport.
Their flat, rubber soles are perfect for keeping the correct posture during deadlifts, squats and bench presses.
In addition, the canvas material that the shoes are made from helps powerlifters to push their feet to the outside when squatting which helps keep their knees turned outwards. The low-top version of the sneakers are the most ideal as they provide complete ankle mobility.
Interestingly, seventy-one-year-old Pete Bennett set the world record for a squat in his weight class whilst wearing a pair of converse.
The shoes are widely recognised for being the perfect shoe to wear when lifting any weights, so next time you’re heading to the gym, don’t forget to grab your chucks.
The Chuck Taylor II’s
Back in 2015, the iconic Chuck Taylors had their first major makeover in almost a century.
The revamp changed little in terms of the style, but it did a lot in terms of updating the materials used to create the shoe.
Firstly, Converse changed their canvas material, switching it for a Tencel canvas with a foam-padded collar and a non-slip padded tongue. As well as outside material updates, Chuck Taylors’ interior changed.
A Nike Lunarlon sock liner provides cushioning which makes you feel like you’re walking on air.
However, the Chuck Taylor II’s weren’t the revolutionary change that Converse expected them to be. Just two years after they launched, the shoe was discontinued as many customers slammed the company for changing too much of the design.
They said they didn’t want a new design, but wanted a more comfortable version of the original (and well-loved) sneakers.
Following the failure of the Chuck Taylor II’s, in 2020, Converse released the CX Line. There are three styles in the range, but the closest style to the original is the Chuck Taylor All Star CX.
These feature new stretch canvas which is said to adapt to the wearer’s foot. It also makes the shoes easier to take on and off, as we are all aware of the struggle of trying to wedge your foot into a pair of chucks.
The Converse CX also boasts a PU insole, which boosts impact absorption. This basically means that there is better shock absorption compared to the original design.
The CX collection was intended to just be a limited edition range. However, the Chuck Taylor CX’s are still available, and Converse plans to bring out different shoe styles within the same range. With that being said, the CX collection comes in extremely limited color options.