Most people focus on brand or appearance when buying shoes. That might be good for their sense of fashion, but it’s not always so great for their feet. Here’s how you can make sure your next shoe purchase supports healthy, happy feet.
Research shows that foot pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain among Americans. Heel pain alone affects about 2 million people in the United States, and that doesn’t begin to take into account all the other types of pain that can affect the feet.
Of course, you can’t give up using your feet, and even curtailing activities isn’t always easy. But there is one thing you can do that makes a world of difference: You can choose the right shoes.
Shoe buying seems simple enough, but for most people, unfortunately, the first consideration is more about how the shoes look than about the way they affect your feet.
To help patients at Richmond Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates make smarter footwear choices, Weston Angermeier, DPM, and Rachel Hensley, DPM, offer these foolproof tips to give your feet the support and comfort they deserve.
1. Fit the shoe to your foot
Most people focus on length when choosing a shoe, and sometimes width. But there’s more to a well-fitted shoe. You want a shoe to hug your feet, but not pinch. And you especially need to make sure there’s plenty of room in the toe area.
Your foot size and shape can change a lot as you get older, experience weight changes, or go through pregnancy. They can also change over the course of the day. In fact, it’s always best to buy shoes in the afternoon, because your feet expand during the day and are slightly larger in the afternoon than they are in the morning.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve had your feet measured, it’s probably a good idea to have a pro double-check your current shoe size at the store.
2. Fit the shoe to the activity
Running a marathon in high heels is an extreme (and silly) example of why it’s important to fit the shoe to the activity. In real life, the differences are much subtler. With the right shoe, your performance will be better and your feet will be more supported — meaning you’ll experience less strain and pain as well as fewer foot-related problems.
Not sure which shoe is right for your sport or activity? Ask our team or visit a reputable sports shoe store for professional guidance.
3. Replace worn-out shoes
Today’s shoes are durable, but they’re not designed to last forever. Runners and some other athletes should replace their shoes every 350-500 miles.
Even casual walkers probably need to replace their shoes a lot sooner than they think. Shoe padding (insoles) and bottoms (outsoles) wear down, and that means older, well-worn shoes won’t provide you with much-needed support and protection.
4. Avoid sore heels
When shopping for everyday walking shoes or athletic shoes, look for padding around the heel area. Soft, supportive heel collars help cushion the Achilles tendon while providing a contoured fit that prevents slipping and blisters.
5. Look for good arch support
Your arch spans the midsection of your foot, giving your foot support and flexibility. If your shoes don’t provide adequate arch support, you’re likely to have foot pain along with an increased risk of developing flat feet, or “fallen” arches. Poor arch support can also lead to plantar fasciitis, a common cause of foot pain — especially as you get older.
6. Support your ankles, too
Healthy, comfortable feet depend on well-supported ankles. If your ankles aren’t supported, you risk ankle sprains and fractures, but you also put extra strain and pressure on your feet.
Dress shoes don’t necessarily call for ankle support, but if you’re choosing casual shoes or shoes used for walking, running, or other sports, you should definitely look for options that support your ankles.
7. Keep your feet cool
Hot feet aren’t just uncomfortable — when your feet sweat, friction inside your shoes can increase and set the stage for blisters and sores. Hot, sweaty feet can also leave you at risk of developing a fungal infection like athlete’s foot.
8. Keep the heels low
High heels are a major cause of foot pain as well as common foot problems like hammertoe deformities, bunions, and ingrown toenails (not to mention the biomechanically transferred pain you may develop in your hips, knees, and lower back).
If you feel you must continue wearing heels, keep the height to a minimum, and change into more comfortable footwear as soon as possible.
Give your feet some love
If your feet are sore and aching, it could be your shoes — or it could be something else. Don’t assume; instead, schedule a visit with our team. To find out what’s causing your foot pain and learn how we can help you relieve it, call 804-358-9031 or book an appointment online at our Richmond, Virginia, practice today.