Choosing the Right Shoe to Keep You Injury-Free
By Cody Miller, EvergreenHealth Staff Writer
It is easy to neglect our feet despite how much many of us depend on them.
Our feet support us throughout our daily lives and regularly endure the weight of our bodies as well as whatever we carry. It's this pressure that puts our feet at risk, and our shoes play a major role in protecting them from injury.
Adam Sangeorzan, MD, with EvergreenHealth Orthopedic & Sports Care shares the following information and tips on how to look after your feet and why it's important.
Why Foot Health Matters
Your feet are important for the health of your entire body. Wearing the right shoe helps prevent things like deformities, skin irritations, calluses and stress fractures, all of which can be painful. The right shoes can also often go a long way in preventing pain from issues like arthritis or tendonitis.
Not only can foot pain lead to less activity and related health issues like obesity or cardiovascular concerns, but poor foot health can also cause pain in your ankles, knees, hips, back and even your neck.
"Wearing the right shoes can reduce pain from arthritis and lower your chance of getting overuse injuries, such as stress fractures. Furthermore, some deformities like bunions and hammertoes can become a non-issue when wearing the appropriate shoe wear," Dr. Sangeorzan says. "There is no 'perfect shoe' that works for everyone, but with careful assessment, we can always find the correct one for each individual patient."
Additionally, wearing the right shoe during exercise or other athletic activities can improve your performance.
Choosing the Right Shoe
Perhaps the most important aspect of shoes when considering how it will affect your feet and overall health is the size.
Wearing the wrong size can cause the following issues:
- Hammer toes
- Ingrown toenails
"The correct shoe depends greatly on each person's foot shape and activity level. I often look to supplement a good shoe by giving suggestions on appropriate orthotics to wear. There are multiple opinions on how much support you should or shouldn't have while running or walking, but I work to try to find the correct solution for each patient," Dr. Sangeorzan says.
For instance, hiking boots are important because they offer not only support for your foot but also your ankle while moving over uneven surfaces.
Running shoes provide extra cushion in the sole to alleviate the pounding that can act as a shockwave through your foot and up your leg.
Tennis shoes offer stability at the ankle and on either side of your feet for when you're moving left and right quickly.
Shoes to Avoid
There are indeed shoes that are downright not healthy for your feet when they're being worn frequently or for long periods of time.
In particular, high heels and pointed-toe shoes can change the alignment of your body and aggravate your toes. Some physicians believe these shoes can be a primary cause of deformities such as hammertoes or bunions.
If you are considering wearing a shoe with a heel, go for wedge heels that are no taller than an inch and a half. These provide better balance and support than stiletto-style heels. If you do decide to go with less supportive heels, Dr. Sangeorzan says you should be very selective when choosing to do so.
Sneakers are also a good alternative to other flat-soled casual shoes but make sure you throw them out when they become worn out. Old shoes can have a negative impact on the way you step and cause injury. For example, Dr. Sangeorzan generally recommend changing running shoes every 200 miles or so.