From running and hiking to casual strolls in the park, our feet bear the brunt of our daily activities. As we age, we may begin to experience or develop the following: chronic heel pain, foot arthritis, and other foot problems that can threaten our mobility.
With such a critical daily function, you should consider better foot health practices as an investment toward the future, especially if you want to remain active and participate in activities that make you happy.
Here, we will discuss the importance of proper footwear, and how it can help minimize strain on your feet, avoid injury, and optimize your athletic performance. We are also going to discuss what to look for in a shoe, what to avoid, and the advantage of custom orthotics for the right candidate.
What Should You Look For in a Shoe?
Choosing the right footwear is your first step to better foot health. When shopping for shoes, keep in mind the following important features:
- Good Arch Support
Choose shoes that offer good arch support to prevent foot pain and injury. It is better to choose a shoe with good arch support than think about supplementing it later on with shoe inserts.
To test the arch support, hold the shoe firmly by the heel in one hand and grip the upper part of the shoe near the heel with the other hand. A well-constructed shoe will offer minimal movement or rotation when attempting to twist it side-to-side around the heel. If you push on the heel at the back of the shoe, it should not collapse.
- Well-Cushioned with Shock Absorption
Look for shoes with cushioning in the heel and forefoot to minimize the impact of walking or running on your feet. High-quality foam midsoles, like EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam or polyurethane, offer excellent cushioning and shock absorption for yourfeet.
- Highly Breathable and a Good Fit
Go for shoes that fit well and allow your feet to breathe, as this affects the comfort of the shoes. Mesh is a lightweight and breathable material that allows for proper ventilation, keeping your feet cool and comfortable during activity. Furthermore, laces keep your feet in place compared to slip-ons, which can make your foot move around and unstable.
- Flexibility of Materials
Choose shoes that allow your feet to move and flex naturally. Stiff-soled shoes can make your foot sore. Check if the shoe bends at the same point where your toes naturally bend. Ideally, the shoe’s flexibility should align with the bend of your toes, allowing for ease of movement and proper foot mechanics.
- Lightweight Materials
Many walking and running shoes incorporate synthetic fabrics such as nylon or polyester. These materials are flexible, lightweight, and quick drying, making them ideal for athletic activities.
If you are buying shoes for exercise or sports, know that you are subjecting your feet to greater weight and stress than normal, therefore, you should seek out highly specific footwear for your activity.
For instance, running shoes are specifically crafted to accommodate the linear, heel-to-toe motion involved in running, whereas training shoes are designed with multi-directional movement in mind. Get the advice of a specialist to help you make the best decision when choosing footwear.
What Are the Consequences of Wearing the Wrong Footwear?
Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to a variety of foot problems, including:
- Plantar Fasciitis – A painful inflammation of the band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes.
- Bunions – A boney protrusion that forms at the base of the big toe.
- Corns and Calluses – Thickened and hardened areas of skin that form in response to friction and pressure.
- Metatarsalgia – Inflammation in the ball of the foot.
- Stress fractures – Tiny, hairline fractures that can form in the foot’s bones.
The right footwear can become wrong if it is worn out. Shoes need to be replaced when the texture on the bottom of the shoes changes. So, check your shoes often for wear, and replace them sooner rather than later.
What Are Custom Orthotics?
Custom orthotics are shoe inserts that are designed to support and cushion your feet. They are prescribed by a podiatrist and designed to fit your feet precisely. To get fitted for custom orthotics, the foot and ankle doctor performs a thorough examination of your feet and takes impressions of them to create unique shoe inserts for you.
Individuals with high arches, flat feet, diabetes, chronic heel pain, ankle instability, and other foot disorders, as well as high-performing athletes can benefit from custom orthotics. Custom orthotics can relieve pain and prevent new issues from developing.
Foot and Ankle Doctor in Naples, FL
Dr. Cody Togher, our podiatrist at the Joint Replacement Institute, is ready to serve your podiatry needs, from foot pain and injury to custom orthotics and surgery. He treats patients in our world-class facility in southwest Florida and helps patients achieve better foot health with education and high-quality, personalized treatments and services.