How Shoes Affect Foot Health
The phrase “form follows function,” are the words of Chicago architect Louis Sullivan. Sullivan was a key figure in the Modernist architectural movement of the 1930’s and is credited as being the “father of the skyscraper.” His famous saying doesn’t dismiss “form” (the way something looks), but rather implies that function (the way something works) is more important. This is certainly applicable in many different areas, and especially when discussing footwear.
Your shoe choices and foot health can be more closely linked than you might think. There are many instances wherein the function of your footwear serves to protect your lower limbs and prevent injury—like common sources of heel pain—from happening. When picking out a new pair, you can still take the “form” into consideration, but make sure you’ve given thought as to what they are actually doing for your feet first!
Some of the ways shoes affect and protect your feet include:
- Fit. Always keep in mind that toes need to have room in the front, the heel should be secured, and there needs to be enough room in the back of the heel so you can slide your index finger down between the shoe and your foot to about the second knuckle.
- High heels. Many people still think that high-heeled shoes cause bunions, but this is not actually the whole story. Bunions are typically caused by either an inherited foot structure or biomechanical abnormalities. With that being said, pumps and stilettos can cause an existing bunion condition to worsen. Further, these kinds of shoes increase the risk for a condition called Haglund’s deformity – which has the nickname “pump bump.” The best way to avoid problems from high heels is to save them for special occasions. If you wear them at work, consider sporting a more comfortable, sensible pair for your commute into and out of the office.
- Diabetic shoes. If you have diabetes, you should already know the importance of diabetic foot care. One component of this is to wear properly-fitting shoes that cushion your feet and reduce your risk for dangerous foot ulcers. Need help knowing how to pick out the right footwear? Our office will be glad to help!
- Steel-toe and safety shoes. When you work at a job that requires you to frequently move heavy objects, protect your feet with safety shoes or steel-toed work boots to reduce your risk of fracturing a toe or developing an ingrown nail after dropping something on your foot.
With that in mind, here are some shoe buying tips so you can find footwear that keeps your feet healthy and safe:
- Shop for footwear during the late afternoon or early evening — your feet naturally expand with use during the day.
- Wear the same type of socks when you go shopping that you intend to wear with the shoes you are buying.
- Have your feet measured every time you go shoe shopping. Feet often grow larger and wider with age. If one foot is larger—which is quite common—buy a size that fits the larger foot.
- Stand in the shoes you are considering. Press gently on the top and make sure you have roughly a half-inch of space between the end of the shoe and your longest toe. Also, wiggle your toes to make sure the shoes are wide enough.
- Take a little time to walk around in the shoes so you can determine how they feel.
- The listed size might be a good starting point for trying footwear on, but trust your own comfort over anything else.
- Length might get more attention, but width is also important. If your feet, and especially your toes, are being squashed together, you need a wider pair!
- Don’t forget to feel around the inside of the shoes. See if there are any seams, tags, or any other material that could irritate your feet.
- Inspect the soles to determine if they are sturdy and provide good grip. Will they protect your feet from sharp objects?
Two considerations that do not necessarily apply to everyone are to make sure your orthotics fit well inside the shoes (if you have them) and be especially careful in buying footwear if you are diabetic. You can check with us in the event you have any questions about diabetic footwear.
Making wise shoe choices plays a role in managing foot health, but don’t forget the importance of seeing a foot doctor to address lower limb issues!
Contact our Salt Lake City office at the earliest opportunity whenever you experience pain or discomfort with a foot or ankle. Early treatment typically delivers optimal results, whereas allowing a problem to go unaddressed for an extended period of time can lead to even bigger problems. Also, we can provide preventative tips and advice!
When you have foot care needs, reach out to Anderson Foot & Ankle Clinic and find out how we can help. Call us at (801) 269-9939 or fill out our online form to request your appointment.