Hi folks, 2015 marks the start of my 9th year in practice as a chiropodist (foot specialist). I was trying to think about what to write for my blog, I realized that 80% of all the people who come to see me for a foot problem have had a bad shoe or two in their lives that might have contributed to their current foot problem.
Choosing The Right Shoes
Shoes are quite a unique article of clothing. They can be a fashion statement, functional device and even a medical device. No other piece of clothing quite works the same exact way, except perhaps for compression garments. If you have a tight pair or ill fitting pair of shoes, it feels quite different than a tight fitting shirt, jacket or even pants. You can cause some serious harm to yourself over time with tight shoes. However it extends much farther from that. A bad pair of shoes can be too loose. Where your foot moves around too much during the course of the day and the foot is banging around inside the shoe like a racket ball. This can cause repetitive stress on the foot as well. Then there’s the bottom of the shoe. People might not even feel the lack of cushioning or perhaps the wrong kind of cushioning for their foot shape or type. Depending on how your foot falls on the ground, the pressures of what part of the foot hits harder than the rest, your feet will require very different shoes than what you might choose yourself.
The biggest obstacle in my line of work is to get someone into a pair of shoes that they will wear and will be comfortable in. Functional and comfortable may not always be fashionable. There are quite a lot of ‘ugly’ orthopedic shoes out there. I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what one patient will call ‘ugly’, the other will say is very comfortable and still ‘stylish’.
Many people (men AND women) have a pair or two of certain shoes that look fantastic but don’t really fit well; myself included. I encourage all of you to reduce the usage of these types of shoes and increase the usage of really comfortable shoes. Pick your battles with the good ones and bad ones. Your feet will thank you for it, years to come when they are not arthritic, painful and deformed.
Group Your Shoes
I want you to do an exercise. Separate all your shoes into three groups. Group A; comfortable shoes that you could walk all day in. Group B would be shoes that you’d only wear if you didn’t have to walk all day in. Finally group C; shoes that you could literally run a marathon in if you had to. For most people that are active, they might have at least one pair of shoes in all 3 categories but my average patient usually only has shoes in the first two group or sometimes only in group A! I encourage you to purchase more and more shoes in the second two categories. I’m not saying to get rid of those killer heels or that wing tip that matches that suit perfectly. I just want my patients to have a good pair or two of “go-to shoes” that they know they can be comfortable in them all day long without worries.
This is the beginning of taking great care of your feet!
The take home message that I want my readers to know about footwear is that this is where problems start. Look to your footwear or even lack thereof (I’m looking at you, my barefoot patients). If things are not improving, seek the aid of your friendly neighborhood chiropodist/podiatrist.