In the present fashion, clunky backless slip-on shoes are generally referred to as shoes. Traditionally, the slow down was a shoe defined by its large shape, heavy sole and sturdy material. Initially, shoes were worn as protective footwear medical clogs over shoes by farmers, manufacturer workers and miners in Scandinavia. In the Netherlands shoes gained popularity and were worn close to shoes and not as overshoes.
Shoes are descendants of the “galoce”, a high wooden shoe worn by peasant women from the Ardenne region to protect their shoes from muddy dirt streets. Records of wooden shoes date back to the Roman Empire.
The original shoes were shoes with heavy, rigid wooden soles. Mainly made of willow or other woods, these sturdy shoes provided both warmth and safety for the working class foot. The durability of these wooden shoes made the slow down a well liked style of footwear for the working class.
Although generally associated with Scandinavian countries, wooden shoes were worn throughout continental Europe, the British Isles and Mediterranean and beyond areas, including such countries as Toscana and Greece. They gained popularity during the Industrial Movement as a protective shoe for the working class.
In Europe, the war years of the the twentieth century found governments urging its citizens to look at wooden shoe usage due to deficiencies in leather supplies. These folks were largely lost in their efforts due to the continued perception of wooden shoes as footwear or the working or peasant class.
The wooden shoe did not find popularity in the united states before the 1960’s when Dr. Scholl introduced a wood bottom slip-on that was hailed as therapeutic footwear. In the 1970’s, shoes became a fashion trend following the lead of the popular vocal singing group Abba which performed wearing platform boots and Swedish shoes with leather uppers and thick (and noisy) wood soles.
While some shoes today retain the look of the 70’s slow down, the wooden sole now has a skid resistant plastic bottom. Often, shoes are now made of plastic or other unnatural materials that withstand water and heat. The popularity of Crocs, which started as gardening shoes, has exploded and these shoes are now available in a multitude of colors for men, women and children.
Today’s shoes are available in several heels height; some come with optional heel ties. Leather uppers remain popular but plastic shoes have gained popularity among nurses as they can be sterilized in an autoclave or with over the counter cleaning materials. Operating room personnel have long worn shoes citing less foot and back fatigue from extended stays of standing. The firm plastic or wooded soles of the slow down offer all day support, providing a strong foundation for weak arches and plantar fasciitis. The original mid heel height of many shoes takes pressure of the lower back by helping the individual stand straighter.
For such as nurses or other healthcare professionals, the natural foot shape and wide toes of the slow down assists in maintaining feet from feeling narrowed and pinched. This helps to take the pressure off of problem foot areas such as bunions and hammertoes. For nurses who do more standing than walking, such as operating room personnel, wood soled shoes are often the preferred option. Nurses who walk miles every day engaging in patient care may choose the more flexible plastic sole.
Long lasting choice, wood or plastic, shoes have become a major part of the nursing shoes industry. Most slow down manufacturers offer their shoes in several colors, including white for the healthcare industry. In addition, several nursing uniform suppliers have expanded their uniform lines to include slow down footwear in colors to match their uniform scrubs.
Most slow down wearers insist that they wear shoes for the comfort, but the easier dropping in and out of these shoes is also a major benefit, both for healthcare workers and travellers. With security regulations at air-ports insisting that travellers remove their shoes at security checkpoints the slow down has become popular travel footwear.
Today, shoes have regained their popularity as a durable work shoe and with the addition of improved, more padding inner soles they have joined the ranks of the “comfortable shoes” among both nurses and the general population. The long tradition of shoes over the centuries continues as shoes continue to find new uses.