A few weeks ago, a family member came to me complaining of some general foot and arch pain with her long walks. I asked some basic questions: what kind of trail does she walk on, does she stretch regularly before and after her walks, was there a recent injury she forgot to tell me about? Finally, she showed me the shoes she had been walking in, and had been going on long walks for the last 2 years: a pair of black-turned-gray slip on “sneakers” with a nearly flat arch and worn down heel counters. Alas, we had the culprit to her foot pain.
While we may not think twice about our shoe gear, especially if we have been wearing the same trustworthy pair of sneakers for that morning 5 days a week, shoes go a long way! And as I often tell my patients, wearing the right shoes is half the bottle in helping many foot pathologies.
When shopping for the right shoes, it is important to identify the purpose of the shoe, but also your own foot type. The reason is that our shoes offer support and thus with the wrong shoes, many areas of our feet can be stressed and hurt depending on the activity, causing pain and difficulty walking, standing or running! There are different things to look for in a shoe including the size of the toe box, the arch thickness, heel counter as well as height, and many other terms you can learn about! Shoes will also often require a little extra help, in which case patients are prescribed custom foot orthotics. These are essentially shoe inserts that give your feet the support they need in custom moderations.
Another important concept is the following: what works for one person may not work for another. The shoes I would recommend for a diabetic with peripheral neuropathy, bunions and hammertoes would certainly be different from the shoes and/or orthotics I’d recommend for a patient with high arches looking to train for a marathon.
If you are questioning your foot type and/or have some questions about the proper shoe gear for your lifestyle and activities, do not hesitate to make an appointment and talk with one of our doctors!