The ideal orthopedic shoe for someone with existent foot pain is something very different to an ideal shoe for someone with no pain at all or with perfectly healthy feet. I would like to talk about the orthopedic style shoe for a patient with pain (since that’s who usually comes through my door).
What To Look For
These types of shoes need to be supportive. They have to literally hold the shoe onto the foot fully without any slippage, twisting and of course not be too tight. The outsole or the bottom of the shoe should be stiff enough that the shoe cannot bend in half. You need the support to decrease instability in the painful foot.
Theses shoes also need to be well cushioned. Newton’s 3rd law states that every action has an opposite and equal reaction. If you have your body weight going into the ground, you will have the same reaction force come up back into your body, in which your joints, muscles and other structures need to dissipate. Why wouldn’t you dissipate it with some added cushion so your body doesn’t have to?
Lastly, the shoe need to have an adjustable closure. The most common would be laces but in a pinch, velcro will do. The physics of a shoe and how it’s built will decrease pressures on the bottom of the foot when the top of the foot is held down with laces or velcro. The more pressure you have above, the less you have below. Bearing in mind that you cannot tie anything TOO tight or you will have foot problems on top of your foot!
Things To Consider
A strong heel counter or the back of the heel. This area cannot be too flimsy. It needs to also hold the shoe against your heel and Achilles area so it doesn’t rub and it doesn’t slip. A normal amount of slippage is ok but if your foot is coming out of the shoe, you may get a blister!
A removable or supportive insole that comes with the shoe. These insoles are usually made of foam or rubber to increase cushioning. If they are removable, it’s that much of a better shoe! These insoles are often removed and replaced with custom foot orthotics that we make for you. Usually, if it is a good shoe, the insole that it comes with looks as beefy and bulky as a $60 over the counter, drug store bought insole meant to take away pain!
Be critical! You pay good money for your shoes! Sometimes several hundred dollars a pair! They better be good for your feet! Unlike any other article of clothing, if your shoes don’t fit properly, you WILL get orthopedic problems!