bad shoes can cause heel pain and other foot problemsFall is almost here and you're likely running out to buy new shoes for your kids. But what about you? When was the last time you assessed your own shoes?

One of the most important things you can do to maintain foot health and prevent pain is to wear supportive shoes. Many patients come to see me struggling with foot pain. I can't tell you how many times a big part of the problem is their shoes.

How can you tell if you need new shoes? Here are five surefire ways to know.

Heel Pain and Shoe Support

If you have heel pain one of the first things I'm going to ask about is the type of shoes you're wearing. Although heel pain has many causes, one of them is wearing shoes with no support. And it's one of the easiest things to fix. So many people come in wearing shoes that I can literally fold in half. If your shoes are like that and you're wearing them to go on long walks around Greenlake, Hamlin Park in Shoreline, or St. Edwards State Park in Kenmore, you need to go out and buy yourself a new pair of shoes.

The best guidelines for buying walking shoes are to make sure they only bend at the toe, can't easily be wrung out like a rag, and have a stiff heel counter. Watch this video demonstration of how to test any shoe for stability.

worn out shoesThe Treads Are Worn Down

You'll also want to avoid wearing shoes with worn-down treads. How can you tell if they're worn down? Turn over your shoes and check them. If they look worn out or they are wearing unevenly in comparison to a new pair of shoes, then it's time to replace them. Worn-out shoes will not provide the support you need even if they did initially.

Size Matters: Your Shoe Size and Aging Feet

Have you ever noticed your shoe size changing as the years go by? It's not uncommon, and understanding this phenomenon can save you from unnecessary pain. As we age most of us gain weight and that can cause our feet to flatten and get longer. This can also happen to women after pregnancy. 

avoid pointy shoesYour Shoes Are Squeezing Your Toes

Although it's very fashionable to wear pointy shoes they can cause several foot problems. If you already have bunions pointy, tight shoes will only make them worse. In addition, you can develop a painful condition called Morton's Neuroma as a result of wearing shoes that are too tight and narrow.

Your Toenails Are Hurting You

Along with wearing shoes that are too small and narrow, another sign that you need a new pair of shoes is painful toenails. Your toenails should never hurt in a pair of shoes. Wearing shoes that are too short can cause two big problems for your toes: ingrown toenails and toenail fungus. Wearing shoes that fit is important to avoid both of these painful and unsightly problems.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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