Your feet take a lot of abuse. They bear the weight of your entire body day in and day out. They pound the pavement when you are walking, absorb the shock when you exercise, and conform themselves to whatever fashionable footwear you cram them into that day.
It should come as no surprise then that more and more people are asking podiatrists why their feet hurt so much. In fact, over 75% of adults complain of chronic foot pain. Plantar fasciitis has become a normalized household word, and arthritis is getting diagnosed much earlier in life than ever before. There’s one question that people regularly ask: Can shoes prevent foot pain?
This is a complicated question, but in general the answer is yes! The first step that most podiatrists will take with patients complaining of foot pain is to examine their footwear and recommend a change.
There are several different types of foot pain, so it is important to understand what kind of pain you have in order to figure out how to fix it. People with flat feet are not going to have the same problems or solutions as people with high arches.
The most common contributor to chronic foot pain is arthritic pain. A lot of people fail to recognize arthritis pain for what it is because they assume that it is for the elderly; but the truth is that adults as young as 30 are regularly diagnosed with arthritis problems. Today’s culture spends far more time on their feet and their footwear is far more abusive. There are also more frequent issues of obesity, which is a major contributing factor to arthritis.
If your foot pain usually occurs midfoot, or near the front of your ankles, then you may have osteoarthritis. This affects your metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. Rheumatoid arthritis strikes both feet in the same place, so if it’s a widespread pain then this may be the cause. Psoriatic arthritis attacks the tops and middle of your feet and causes tons of swelling, especially in your toes.
Other types of foot pain include gout, which strikes your big toe, and ankylosing spondylitis, which can also lead to plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon pain.
Shoes have a huge impact on your body! The type of shoe you wear can either help or harm you in very real ways. In fact, most of the most fashionable types of shoes are the worst things you could possibly put on your feet!
For example, high heels place a ton of strain on your ankles and the balls of your feet, forcing them to stabilize and balance your entire body. They throw your spine out of alignment and can lead to serious knee problems, bunions, hammer toes, ligament tears, and stress fractures!
Flip-flops are the most comfortable type of shoe to wear in the summer. They let you show off your gorgeous pedicures, they don’t overheat you or make your feet sweaty, and you can kick them off and run barefoot through grassy yards or beaches. Did you know that they also cause major tendonitis and plantar fasciitis? They offer no support, which puts a lot of strain on your arches – especially for those of you with high ones. Your entire foot bears the brunt of every impact, absorbs all the shock of walking, and is left unprotected. Ballet flats and slip ons, like Toms, are all similar to flip flips, offering only minimally better support due to not needing the toes to grip anything to keep them on your feet.
If you feel relieved because you only wear trusty, reliable athletic shoes and they just so happen to be the most comfortable shoes ever, then you may be right… but you may also be missing out on better. Your athletic shoes will need to be regularly replaced in order to get the most out of them.
All shoes need to be regularly purged and replaced. If you have problems with your gait, or you do not distribute your weight evenly, your soles will wear down unevenly. Have you ever had a pair of favorite shoes for years, and when you look at them without your feet in them, you realize one of them leans to one side or the other? That’s an indication that you need to replace your shoes; it will put additional strain on different areas of your feet as a result and the support for that area of your foot has entirely disappeared.
The good news is that while many conventional types of shoes are bad for you, there are a lot of shoes that are great for you. The quickest way to reduce your foot pain is to replace your shoes with a pair designed for your feet. Here are some shoe buying tips.
Sizing matters. The average adult has no idea what their actual foot size is. Do you? You might be surprised. Have a professional measure you before buying your next pair so you get an accurate sizing on your length and width. Make sure they include your arches in this so that you know the best way to support your feet. Wearing shoes that are the right size for your feet will reduce circulation problems, friction sores, blistering, and strain.
As much as no one wants to do this, leave style behind. Shop for comfort first and then pick the most stylish option from within the selection of shoes that work well or your feet. As more and more people switch to these types of shoes, ore and more shoe companies have begun offering a wider selection of orthopedic friendly shoes.
Arch support plays a big factor in your shoe buying decision. The right arch support ensures that your weight gets evenly distributed across your feet rather than concentrating in one area. Flat feet need extra arch support due to their lack of natural arch. Find shoes that are firm in the mid-sole. There’s a great list here. Higher arches need extra padding in the soles, and are the most likely people to benefit from inserts.
Your shoe should also offer support and stability. Rocker soles are great for reducing the impact and shock feet see from running and exercise. Your podiatrist can also prescribe custom orthotics. These are molds of your exact foot shape that you can slip into your shoes to correct gait problems. Don’t forget to pair great shoes with the best socks for the job!
Sophie Elise is a passionate cyclist, author, and blogger. She is very passionate about writing on different types of women’s bikes, accessories, health, fitness and more. She regularly writes on sportsly.net