Finding and wearing the right shoes is a topic I broach with almost all of my podiatry patients. Whether a person comes to me because they are having plantar fasciitis due to repetitive injuries from running or someone with diabetes is having issues with wounds a discussion of shoes is critical to preventing and treating their foot condition.
Our feet spend most of their waking hours in shoes. That's why it's so important to be sure the shoes we wear are the right size, a good match for our foot type, and complement the activities we engage in. In addition, shoes need to accommodate our foot condition so we are not making it worse or suffering unnecessarily.
Of course many of the conditions I see require procedures, devices, and/or other products to begin the healing process. However, in addition the right shoes are a must for preventing further injury or pain to the feet.
Finding the Right Shoe Size
Recently I read that Meghan Markle is sporting heels slightly larger than her foot size. The article assumed she was doing this to help prevent foot pain. I don't know where Prince Harry's wife got this information but it is incorrect.
Wearing the correct shoe size is very important to ensure you don't have foot pain. Many people know that a child's foot size changes constantly and are vigilant about getting their kid's feet measured. But few are aware that their own feet can also increase in size.
Many of us gain weight as we age. For women rapid weight gain is most common during pregnancy. An increase in weight affects our feet by adding pressure during every step. Over time this causes our arches to lower and our feet to go up a half to a whole shoe size or more. Weight gain can also increase the width of our feet.
For this reason, getting your feet measured every time you buy a new pair of shoes is important. Also, shoes are not necessarily consistently sized between shoe companies. It's best not to rely on a past size to determine what you should buy today. For in store and online purchases be sure you know the companies return policies so you know how long you can try out the shoes and whether you can wear them outside.
Selecting the Right Shoe for Your Foot Type
Foot type is another thing to consider when buying a pair of shoes.
Your foot width is one aspect of your foot type. Not all shoes will accommodate a particularly wide or narrow foot. Nordstrom and other specialty stores can be a big help if you have either of these foot types.
Arch type is also important to take into account when purchasing shoes. Arch types are either normal, high, flat or somewhere in between.
You're fortunate if you have a normal arch. You'll still need supportive shoes but not to the same degree as someone who has flat feet.
People with high arches tend to supinate or roll their feet out as they walk. Foot problems that can arise from this foot type are hammertoes and metatarsalgia. Often woman will seek out a high heeled shoe because initially they'll feel more comfortable. However, high heels put more pressure on the ball of the foot which can cause worsen problems like metatarsalgia and cause other's like Morton's neuroma. The best shoes for high arches are ones with a lot of flexibility, a firm heel counter, and ankle support when hiking or playing a sport with lots of motion changes.
People with flat feet tend to be most at risk for multiple foot conditions. Flat feet pronate or roll in when walking or running. Foot conditions that arise as a result of flat feet are heel pain, bunions, and hammertoes. Even young children can develop a condition called Developmental Flat Foot between ages four and five. Buying shoes with an arch and avoiding flat shoes are important for people with flat feet. Running shoes usually have a good arch and some shoe companies make shoes with good arches, i.e. Dansko. Most people with flat feet will require additional arch supports to prevent their feet from pronating and causing other foot problems.
Selecting the Right Shoe for Your Activities
Equally as important as getting the right shoe for your foot type is purchasing the right shoe for the type of activity you engage in. Whether you walk around Greenlake, run 10Ks at races, play soccer or another sport it's essential to buy the shoe that will best support your feet and are designed for your particular sport or activity.
Specially designed shoes for most of the sports you play are available for purchase. Shoe companies design these shoes to help promote better play and prevent foot and ankle injuries. It's best to purchase these types of shoes at a store that specializes in that activity. A knowledgeable sales person can make a big difference in ensuring you buy a shoe that works best for you and your sport. For example, in the blog I wrote called How to Buy the Best Running Shoes I go into detail about what a good salesperson should be asking you.
Selecting the Right Shoe for Your Foot Condition
As mentioned above, certain foot types can put a person at greater risk for a particular foot condition. While it's important to choose the right shoe for your foot type it's also a good idea to purchase the right shoe for your foot condition. For example, if you're prone to plantar fasciitis it will be important to purchase supportive shoes that will prevent your foot from pronating.
If you have bunions or hammertoes, you'll want to avoid shoes with a higher heel as these can worsen your condition. In addition, you'll want to find shoes that are wider in the toe box and/or are made out of flexible leather or cloth to prevent pain caused by friction.
People with diabetes may need to purchase special diabetic comfort shoes to decrease the chance of developing foot ulcers.
How and When To Shop for Shoes
Everyone should know the basics about how and when to shop for shoes. In addition to all of the other guidelines already described in this blog, there are a few more key factors that can make a big difference when looking for a shoe.
It's important for everyone to buy a supportive shoe. Shoes with no support may be fine for very casual wear (little or no walking) or for people with no foot problems or a normal foot type but most of us are going to need a shoe that can go the extra mile. To test out shoes before you purchase them visit my video "How To Test Any Shoe for Stability".
Shop for shoes towards the end of the day. As the day goes on our feet tend to swell. If you buy your shoes early in the day you could end of up with a shoe that is too small.
Buy shoes with a roomier toe box. Shoes that are pointy can cause bunions to worsen and other conditions like Morton's neuroma to develop.
Replace running shoes every 500 miles and check to see if the soles of your leather shoes are worn out and needed to be re-heeled. Wearing shoes with worn out heels can't provide the support you need to prevent ankle sprains and other foot problems.
Choose heels that are one inch or less or limit the number of hours you spend in taller heels. High heels are a major culprit in many foot conditions and should be worn in small doses. Always take a lower pair of shoes with you if you plan to wear high heels to an event.
If you're experiencing foot pain, call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.
Your free foot book "No More Foot Pain" is waiting to be sent to your home.
In addition, our newsletter "Foot Sense" comes out monthly. You can also check out our past issues. Every issue contains a mouth-watering recipe and can be printed out for easier reading!
Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.