Choosing Everyday Shoes

Choosing the shoe that is right for you can be a difficult and frustrating task.

The wrong shoe can lead to problems anywhere from the foot to the spine. It can lead to bunions, corns, calluses, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, or back pain. Whether you are standing, walking, or running it is your shoe that absorbs the shock of the ground. Whatever forces are not absorbed by the shoe must be absorbed by our joints, bone, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Shoes like work boots and high heels will not absorb the same amount of force as a running sneaker; they were not designed with absorbing forces in mind. Just as a running sneaker is not built to protect our feet from the dangers of a construction site.

Related: Top Physical Therapist Approved Shoes

There are some very important questions you should ask yourself prior to buying shoes:

  1. You need to ask yourself; what function does my shoe need to fulfill? Do you spend the majority of your day sitting, standing, walking, or running? Once you know what function your shoe needs to serve do not buy a shoe that serves a different function and ask it to be something it is not. It will not meet your expectations and your shoe choice can lead to pain. A prime example of this is the fad happening now where people are wearing slippers or moccasins to school, to go for a walk, or to go shopping. A slipper has very little ability to absorb shock and it provides very little support. This forces a person’s body to absorb the shock which can lead to multiple issues. If you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, you can likely get away with a shoe that has less shock absorption like a dress-shoe or loafer. If you stand, walk, or run around all day; you should pick a shoe that has more shock absorption and provides a stable platform for your feet.
  1. What type of shoe do YOU need? A lot of people are forced into a certain type of shoe dictated by their job or type of life they lead. Are you a construction worker who needs a heavy work-boot for walking, standing, and foot protection? Are you a business professional who needs to wear heels, loafers, or flats? Or do you spend your days running around a department store or chasing children? We don’t often drive by a construction site and see workers wearing loafers because they need the protection for their feet from being crushed by heavy objects or stepping on sharp objects. We aren’t often greeted by a Doctor or lawyer running around in sneakers. And we certainly don’t often drop the kids off at daycare with someone who has 4 inch stilettos on. The 4 primary types of footwear include; 1) work boots, 2) dress shoes, 3) sneakers, and 4) comfort shoes.
  1. What type of shoe does your FOOT need? You might know what kind of shoe you want or what kind of shoe you need but listen to your foot’s opinion. Do you have a high arch or a fallen arch? Do you have narrow feet or wide feet? Do you have small feet or big feet? I know this all sounds like an excerpt from a Dr. Seuss book but these are questions you should ask yourself before ever stepping foot into a shoe store. No pun intended. If you try buying and wearing a shoe that is not compatible with your foot, they will not get along and you could end up in pain. If you are not sure what type of foot you have, you can turn to the sales-person right at the store for a basic foot analysis which can be very helpful. If the type of shoe YOU need is different that the type of shoe your FOOT needs than I suggest you read this next paragraph.
  1. Does my shoe need an insert? And what insert do I choose? My experience with inserts spans a wide range. When choosing inserts you want something that is going to be effective and isn’t going to break the bank. At the same time you shouldn’t waste your money on something that isn’t going to help you. Over the counter inserts can cost only $15 and custom fitted orthotics can cost as much as $400 a pair. Generally speaking, a cheap insert is not going to provide much support, stability, or cushion. If you think that the type of shoe you need is different than the type of shoe your foot needs, you may want to look into orthotics or high end inserts. Fleet Feet in Portland offers a wide range of high end inserts that are very effective. People who need to wear shoes that provide very little support or cushioning frequently benefit from an orthotic.
Related: When Flip Flops Become a Pain in the Heel

Once you have some answers to the questions above it may be a good time to start shopping…at a store. I know a lot of people like to buy their shoes online because they can get them for cheaper or without leaving the comfort of their home.  However, I highly recommend trying on and walking around in shoes prior to buying them. I read an article in Runner’s World Magazine recently that pointed out an excellent fact: if you try on a shoe at the store and it doesn’t fit right or isn’t comfortable do not think that the shoe is going to change. Do not leave a store with shoes that don’t fit or don’t feel good on your feet. Most people would not buy a car without taking it for a test drive first and we typically spend a lot more time in our shoes than in our car.

As an outpatient physical therapist, I see patients who make the wrong shoe choice every day.

Unfortunately, a bad shoe can have a major impact on a person’s body. The take home message is that choosing a shoe is hard, there are many options, but you shouldn’t feel that you have no one to turn to. Physical therapists can be great resources for their expertise in shoe choice. At Back in Motion® we offer free 30 minute consultations where a Physical Therapist can discuss shoe choices. If you want a more in-depth analysis of your foot and ankle in an effort to find the right shoes, you can make a 1 hour appointment for a full examination.

Related: How Physical Therapy Treats Back Pain
Spasms, Cramps, and Charley Horses…..Oh My!

I examined a patient recently who presented with pain affecting both of her legs. She had seen multiple healthcare professionals and been placed on multiple medications in an attempt to reduce her pain; none of which proved helpful. After suffering for a year she was referred to our office where I did a thorough examination. I discovered that she had purchased shoes with great arch support but she also had custom orthotics (inserts) to help with arch support. By doubling up on the arch support she had changed the way she was standing and walking. I immediately had the patient discontinue use of the orthotics. Over the course of a few days the patient’s pain dramatically reduced.  Her year of pain was directly related to inappropriate shoe and orthotic use. So, if you’re in doubt about the right shoe please don’t hesitate to stroll in for a free consultation.

By Michael Moras, DPT

Back in Motion® Physical Therapy – Portland, Maine

Learn More About
Blog | PT Healthy Tips

Wrist Pain

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Related Articles 

Sorry, No Posts Found