Wearing the proper shoes can make a big difference in preventing and dealing with pain. Orthopedic footwear is a great option when choosing shoes, as it contains features to help support the structure and movement of the foot, ankle and lower limb. Many features define footwear as orthopedic, each with a specific purpose. Check out some of the features listed below. Learn what you should look for in a shoe and how it can help!
- Torsional Stability: This refers to the overall strength of the shank of the shoe (the part under the foot). In most cases, a Pedorthist will look for something with more torsional stability and integrity. This means the shoe can’t be twisted, folded, or rung out like a dishcloth. Making this the first form of support, stability, and motion control. It’s like having a solid foundation for your house.
- Outsole: Once you’ve checked for a stiff shank, ensure that the outsole is wider than the upper of the shoe. The base shouldn’t be narrower than the foot.
- Adjustable Closure: This refers to the laces, Velcro, buckles or even zippers on the shoes. Allowing for a customized fit to each foot makes donning and doffing easy and adapts to swelling, varying sock thickness, and even sensitive spots on the foot. This will allow for a secure but not restrictive fit.
- Strong Heel Counter: To check this, press or squeeze the part of the shoe that wraps around the heel. The stronger this is, the better the support. This will help to increase stability and keep your heel aligned.
- Size/Shape/Material of the Upper: The shape of the upper material should be similar to the shape of your foot. You don’t want your toes pressing into the edges or top. It should be long enough, wide enough, and an appropriate shape for your foot. Avoid shoes that point at the toes. These shoes can lead to pain in the toes and the ball of the foot. If your feet are bulging out the shoe’s sides, this can indicate that the shoe is too narrow, leading to pain in the toes and ball of the foot.
Shoes that are too small in length can also cause issues. It can lead to bruised nails and curling toes, leading to pain in these areas.
As for the upper (material at the top of the shoe), a mesh or seam-free material will provide less risk of rubbing or blistering. Avoid shoes with seams or plastic pieces running over the prominence for those with bunions or other bony prominences. Especially for bunions, some shoes will provide extra stretch or space for these prominences.
- Rearfoot/Forefoot rocker: These can help to promote your natural gait cycle. They will help with a smooth movement pattern (eliminating the feeling of clunky shoes!) and help to relieve pressure on the joints and soft tissues. For example, bunions, neuromas, osteoarthritis, and Achilles tendonitis are some common ailments that benefit from a rocker sole. The purpose of the rocker is to help relieve stress and overuse, so it is often beneficial for prolonged activity.
Making sure these features are on your everyday shoes will help to prevent pain. In addition to supporting the foot to reduce stress and strain on the feet and lower body, it can also reduce pressure in specific areas.
Considering each of these factors when choosing footwear will help to make the best choice. A Canadian Certified Pedorthist can help you identify the most important features and select the correct orthopedic option and proper size. For help with your next pair of shoes, contact your local Pedorthist today! You can find one at https://www.pedorthic.ca/.
Katherine Hall, C. Ped (C)