Give your soles some love!
by Molly Breitsprecher, PT, DPT
As we enter into summer, it's a great time to discuss footwear since we all hope to be outside and active! How do you know if your summer sandals or running shoes are best for you? Here are some common problems associated with footwear!
“What is arch support?”
The number one thing to look for is good arch support. The ‘arch’ of your foot is the length of your inner foot between your heel and your big toe. A healthy arch should stay away from the contacting the ground when you are standing. If yours touch the ground, you may have flat arches. Some are born with flat arches, while others may develop them due to various factors including weight, activity level, and age. Regardless, the best way to support your feet and prevent further deterioration of your arch is to pick a shoe with support. Flip flops, flats, and other casual/house shoes do not!
“I love my slide-on shoes, they’re just so convenient!”
The best shoe for activity also likely has a covered heel. When someone wears slip-on shoes, their feet tend to be more free-moving in the shoe and can lead to greater risk for blisters, hammer-toes, bunions or a sprained ankle. Further, when your foot doesn’t strike at the same place in the shoe each step you may not always get the same arch support.
“My kids can still wear last year’s shoes, but should they?”
Athletes and parents need to consider how much time they spend in their shoes between practice and games. With each new sport of the year, they should consider a new pair of appropriate shoes if they are fully participating and completing the season. Shoes are like tires on your car, they wear out and if you want to perform at your optimum, then a fresh set is best. They say for running, new shoes are best after 300-500 miles. There appears to be greater range for a walking shoe replacement from as short as every three months to as late as nine months. As a general rule, most shoes used for regular exercise should definitely be replaced after one year.
“I don’t have foot pain so I can wear whatever shoes I like!”
Patients sometimes don’t recognize how their poor footwear choice could be leading to their knee, hip, or back pain. Our body is a connected, mechanical system. Again, like a car, when our feet aren’t supported, it “throws off the alignment” at our knees and hips placing more strain at the inner knee joint and outer hip joint and can cause problems. Consider this the next time you reach for your flats or flip flops, especially if you will be on your feet for hours at a time. They just don’t provide enough arch support, and as you get older you may feel the consequences of this choice.