"But I never wear heels!"

As part of my role as a podiatrist, I'm often asked by my patients what sort of footwear they should be wearing. Sometimes people have many foot problems yet come into the clinic in the most unsuitable footwear imaginable, and declare "but I never wear heels!”

Firstly, I would like to say, I am NOT the shoe police. I am not going to tell you off for wearing the shoes that you like. I am not going to judge you on your 6 inch heels or your favourite pair of pumps, however, what I will say is that if you suffer with foot pain, heel pain, corns or callouses, the footwear that you choose can make the biggest difference to your day.

So what should you be wearing?

Well, it depends on what you are doing that day.

Different footwear is needed for different activities - there is no 'one-suits-all’ shoe, however there are 4 main golden rules of thumb to follow:-

  1. Ensure your shoes have a good, contoured base. If the shoe is too flat, it will allow your foot to have excess movement and expansion. The base should be reasonably thick (around 1-2cm) and can even have a small heel!!

  2. The shoe must have some bend at the toe area - this allows the foot to bend sufficiently for the "toe off" stage of the gait cycle. This gives the body the propulsion it needs to complete the step. A shoe that you can bend completely in half or one which is too rigid will hinder this action.

  3. The shoe must have a good heel counter. The heel of your foot should be supported by this part of the shoe to minimise excess probation/supination. It again, should be sturdy (you should not be able to flatten it) but should not be so completely rigid that it becomes uncomfortable.

  4. The shoe needs to have a way of gripping on to your foot - be it lace, Velcro or a buckle – any way in which it can be adjusted or fastened to suit your foot. In a slip on shoe, your foot has to work extra hard to keep the shoe on so your toes claw and extra, unnecessary strain is put through your muscles. It also allows for adjustment (loosening or tightening) to allow for a supportive and comfortable fit.

What is hopefully becoming clear is that these golden rules rule out many shoes such as plimsolls, ballet pumps and lots of styles of sandals.

With regard to activities, if you do a lot of walking for example, ensure you have a good fitting walking shoe or boot. For running get a running trainer. If your job involves a lot of standing; ensure you wear a trainer or a supportive shoe that encompasses the 4 golden rules of footwear, outlined above.

People often ask what brands I would recommend them to wear. Every person’s foot is different and every shoe is different, so there is not one brand which I would say is better than another as we all have completely different needs and requirements. The most important point is to make sure you get your shoes fitted professionally. Try on the size below and the size above and walk around the shop. You shouldn't be able to notice if there are any points of the shoe which cause discomfort almost immediately. Ensure the shoe has a snug fit but doesn't rub on the toes. Rubbing from the shoe being too tight can cause nail damage, corns and callouses. If a shoe is too loose, the foot will move around and "tap" the end of the shoe, causing micro trauma to the nail which can end in fungal infections.

The main points to remember are the 4 golden rules of footwear and to the wear the correct footwear for the activity which you are doing. If you are going on a 10 mile hike, wear a walking boot or shoe, if you are going swimming, wear a flip flop to walk to the pool and if you are going out for dinner with your friends, wear what you like!

If you would like more information about the services I offer please contact me at the clinic on 02380 019099.

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