Published on June 18, 2013
No research to date has shown which shoe is the best shoe to wear to prevent injuries. However, the common sense approach to one’s health and well-being is to try to be as natural as possible. As well, avoid shoes that don’t fit your foot, are too tight and the wrong size, as this will definitely cause foot pain to occur.
The Trouble with Heels: High Heels & Foot Pain
High-heeled shoes (which seem to keep getting higher!) should be limited as they cause shortening of the muscles in the back of your leg, specifically your calf’s and hamstrings. Heels place these muscles in a shortened position causing them to become tight with increased pressure on the Achilles and Calcaneus. Additionally, it places you in a stance that is more on your fore foot, putting a great deal of pressure on your toes. Research has correlated tight hamstrings with low back pain. As well, walking in high heeled shoes is not “natural” as it changes your gait and puts more pressure on the toes. High heels also place you at great risk of an ankle sprain. If you need to wear a heeled shoe try a more platform shoe or chunky heel that distributes your weight over your foot more evenly.
Shoes That Hurt Your Feet
Now that it is summer time a lot more people tend to wear flip flops. This shoe type causes a lot of plantar fasciitis to occur as a result of having to squeeze your toes down in a flexed position to keep them on. As well, open shoes with no support and traction leave you susceptible to getting sores or cuts on your feet along with trauma or sprains/strains respectively.
Often time’s patients with arthritic changes will do better with a well-cushioned running shoe as it helps to reduce the impact from ground reaction forces and decrease the forces being transmitted up to the rest of the body. As well, overweight individuals may also require a more supportive shoe to help support them.
Furthermore, using a natural shoe or minimalist shoe can help reinforce good gait mechanics where you land more on your forefoot versus landing heavy on your heel. These shoes are great for training purposes as they are less stable and will help individuals strengthen the small intrinsic foot muscles.
Choosing A Shoe That Won’t Cause Pain
The most important component to shoe selection is comfort and finding a shoe that is relatively flat allowing you to walk naturally (as if you were barefoot). If you have pain walking barefoot, it is important to wear shoes that have some cushioning. Cushioned shoes help to prevent pain from occurring in your feet, ankles, knees, hips and low back. Try to avoid dress shoes or high heeled shoes that are too narrow and squeeze your toes together as they can cause bunions, blisters, neuromas and soft tissue injuries.
There is no magic formula to prescribing shoes as it truly comes down to preference and what feels good for your foot and body. The key is finding what works for you and your body in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. Typically, the flatter you go, the more natural you go! Remember if you are older or suffer from osteoarthritic changes a shoe with more rubber will help to aid in shock absorption.