Whether you’re wearing sparkling glass slippers, designer flats or walking sneakers, a proper shoe fit can alleviate or prevent many foot problems. Several factors play a role in how comfortable a shoe will be.
According to local experts, important considerations for women are that their shoes or shoe products fit properly and provide appropriate arch support. Their knowledge and services can be your “bibbidi- bobbidi-boo” to having healthy, happy—and sometimes bare—feet.
Why are supportive shoes and products so important? “Supportive shoes will appropriately distribute the weight and pressure created by your body over the entire plantar, or bottom of your foot,” says Loring Stead, DPM, an expert in podiatric medicine and surgery at Olmsted Medical Center. “Without appropriate support, many people may develop foot pain.”
Pain along the front and bottom of the foot is called metatarsalgia. Pain in the arch or heel pain is called plantar fasciitis. “Proper support redistributes weight often alleviating foot and back pains,” says Dr. Stead. “A supportive heel with a flexible forefoot will provide much relief from many foot problems. A deeper, wider toe box can alleviate much pain from bunions and hammer toes.”
RUNNING & WALKING SPECIALTY FOOTWEAR
“We want to find the right amount of support and correction for the particular person, their body and foot mechanics—and their running and walking gait,” says Tiffany Piotrowicz, owner of TerraLoco. “You can create problems by having too much support, just as you can have problems by not having enough support.”
TerraLoco offers two basic types of running and walking footwear. A neutral shoe allows the foot and body to function naturally. A stability shoe helps prevent the foot from rolling excessively to the inside, which often results in plantar fasciitis, ankle pain, knee pain, hip flexor pain and, at times, back pain.
The specialty shoe store works with local physical therapists and physicians and can perform a video gait analysis for customers. “We will help them find something that is perfect,” says Piotrowicz.
ARCH SUPPORT PRODUCTS
The Good Feet Store in Rochester customizes arch supports to hold your foot in a more ideal position, redistributing body weight more evenly and helping to relieve pain and pressure from your feet, hips and back. “A customer should plan on spending about 30 minutes with a certified arch support specialist,” says owner Carol Brannon. “After we fit the customer with the proper supports, they’re able to walk around, see how they feel and determine for themselves whether or not they believe the supports will relieve their pain.”
Brannon says every person’s foot has four arches, and because the arch length has nothing to do with shoe length, it’s impossible for shoe manufacturers to put the proper support in each shoe. The store has many styles of arch supports that fit in dress shoes, work shoes, sandals—and even high heels!
Dr. Katie Layden, chiropractor and owner of RAK Chiropractic, emphasizes the importance of starting off on the right foot early on. “Wearing more of a minimalist shoe or going barefoot is the way to start out infants,” she says. “The natural barefoot gait lets the foot arch form and the tendons, ligaments and muscles strengthen how they should, instead of relying on other foot muscles to do the work when in a constricted shoe.”
Structural and functional changes can later result from the foot having to conform to the shape and constriction of a shoe. “Good nutrition, exercise, chiropractic care and grounding exercises can get the body aligned,” she says. “If back pain is present, you can get a thorough orthopedic, musculoskeletal and neurological evaluation in order to assess where the pain is coming from.”
Before your body starts feeling the effects of wearing stilettoes, think about the long-term and go with function over fashion for your next pair of shoes.
Trish Amundson is a Rochester-area freelance writer, who loves lots of shoes.