When the foot and ankle are healing from injury, it can be difficult to find a shoe that fits properly. Depending on your wardrobe requirements, deciding between a dress shoe and an athletic shoe may be difficult. However, when a foot orthotic is prescribed, the task becomes even more difficult. Roominess or volume, length and width, stiffness and flexibility may all be issues.
Best Shoe for Orthotics
Shoes for orthotics are shoes that can be worn with an orthotic device such as an insole, insert, or brace. However, for bulky items like braces, a more specialised orthotic accommodating shoe may be required. The “best” shoe is the one that provides the most comfort. Knowing the elements of shoe construction can assist you in selecting a shoe that will significantly reduce your pain level and improve your overall daily function.
There are several key characteristics to look for:
- A strong heel counter (the back part of the shoe): it helps to support the heel with the orthotic
- Midfoot stiffness (thick bottom of the shoe): this provides balance and support. It should NOT bend on itself under the arch
- A flexible forefoot (front of the shoe): for better mobility
- A large toe-box (front shape of the shoe): to provide room for the toes to move and not rub on the top of the shoe
- A wide width: to prevent pressure across the balls of the feet
- Flexible uppers (top material of the shoe): to prevent excess rubbing on the top of the foot
Difference between Walking & Running Shoes
Walking shoes have more formal features and are usually heavier than conventional running shoes. They typically have a wider and stiffer base to help with balance. Running shoes, tend to be lighter and more breathable, but may not have the same balance control.
Other Features to Consider
When looking for the right shoes to walk in, look for ones that are structurally supportive – that is, not too flexible. Make sure your shoes are the right size in terms of length and width. Wearing ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate painful foot conditions, poor circulation, and corns and calluses, which are most commonly found at the base of the feet or around the toes.
If you’re buying shoes online or picking them up at a local store, make sure you do your homework first to ensure you’re choosing the right style of shoe to protect your feet. If you do not have the means to purchase new shoes, choose the ones that better fit the features mentioned above from your current footwear.
There are many shoe models that can accommodate an orthotic device, by providing extra depth or a removable cushioning layer.
Look for features including a removable footbed and a large and deep toe box to ensure a comfortable fit. An adjustable closure, such as laces or Velcro, is anther great feature to accommodate swelling and different insole thickness. Adding an orthotic to your shoe can fill up the arch area, causing the fit to be re-adjusted.
Also consider what kind of foot you have and if any additional support is needed with your orthotics. There are different types of shoes that have more or less support in the bottom of the shoe.
Dress shoes may be harder to use your orthotics in. For the best-case scenario, there are multiple brands that will accommodate a full length orthotic. These brands typically have multiple widths available as well as a removable insert. Some orthotics are designed in a shorter length to use in dress shoes without a removable insert. If you have a dress shoe without a removable insert, it is much easier to fit your orthotic in if the heel counter (back of the shoe) is higher up. This will keep your heel in place and prevent it from sliding up and down.
If your need help finding the right shoe for your orthotics, talk to your Canadian Certified Pedorthist. They will be able to give you the recommendations based on your feet and your individual needs. Find one at https://pedorthic.ca/.
Reza Sands, C. Ped (C)