Better Shoe Choices

Joan Carver, DPM
Cooper Bone and Joint Institute

Spring is fast approaching, and before you hit the stores there are a few tips that may help guide you in making more sensible choices for the overall health of your feet. People tend to wear supportive shoes in the winter time, and when the weather warms, we hurry to get back into open, less restrictive shoes. Here are a few things to keep in mind to prevent pain and complications.

Flip flops are more dangerous than you think.

The lack of support in many flat, flimsy, flip-flops can lead to pain in your heel, arch and forefoot. Extended walking in unsupported shoes can cause flares of  conditions such as plantar fasciitis. Additionally, sandals and open shoes leave your feet prone to scrapes, splinters and bruises. Look for sandals that have more of an arch and formed footbed. There are options that have more padding and are more supportive.

Finding the perfect high heel can be even more challenging.

For more frequent wear, try to stick with heels that are less than two inches in height, to decrease the stress on the ball of your foot which can lead to joint pain and cause toe problems. If you desire extra height, try finding a shoe with a platform or a wedge. This will help to distribute pressure more evenly and prevent increased risks of falls, sprains, and better absorb stress to the foot. A wider heel is more stable than a stiletto, again giving you improved balance.

If you suffer from painful bunions, hammertoes, or any medical conditions affecting your feet be particularly cautious with your shoe choices.

Buying shoes in a wide size will help to relieve the pressure in your forefoot. Make sure that straps and seams aren’t directly over any bony prominences and do not cause rubbing and blisters to your toes. You can always remove the insert from the shoe and stand on it alone for more realistic evaluation. If your feet hang over the sides, you may want to try a different size or shoe. Try shopping for shoes towards the end of the day, when your feet tend to be more swollen. If you buy in the morning, you may find them a bit tight when you wear them out to dinner. Don’t be afraid to try on multiple sizes and widths. Fit does vary between brands and shoe type!

If you have questions, head to your local podiatrist or specialty shoe store. It is possible to find shoes that are both stylish and comfortable.

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