New York is the city of walkers. Recent statistics boast that Manhattan has become the healthiest cardiac city with high life extensions that are all related to the amount of time we spend walking each day. From the subway stairs to the concrete, we make our way around sometimes better and faster than any taxi cab or subway. Practicality becomes an issue when we don’t choose proper shoe gear to make the long walk from Point A to Point B. What I have noticed is that a majority of people wear improper foot wear and that often it is the source of their lower extremity pain.
Everyday my office is bustling with patients who have acquired an injury (i.e, callus, blister, tendonitis, etc) due to use of improper shoe gear. Upon inspection of their footwear, I discover worn out, flimsy soles or just unsuitable. Often they don’t realize how much mileage they have put on them or they just want to look good. Many of us are slaves to fashion. We want to look good at the expense of feeling good. Business suits and platform high heels look great in a fashion magazine but the beauty fades after a trip to the podiatrist’s office.
These “end of the day limpers” tell me “if they are good for your feet then they must be ugly”. Not always the case. Even though my patients cannot take me shoe shopping with them, I often talk to them about their own foot type before the decision of shoe purchase is made. For example, if you have a lower arch (flat feet) wearing shoes that are completely flat may exacerbate arch fatigue or shin splints. If you have hammertoes, wearing an open back shoe is not the best choice as you will overuse your toe flexor muscles to maintain the shoe on your foot. For hallux rigidus a flexible sole will be your worst nightmare. Also consider the life of the shoe. If it’s your most comfortable shoe and you cannot bear to part with them, bring them to a local shoe maker who can refurbish them for you. When all else fails, I encourage my patients to get custom orthotics. Since they are making direct contact with your feet, they are essentially altering your biomechanics. You can always fit your orthotics into any shoe that you desire (high heels being the exception). Not all high heels are “bad” for you. Keeping the heel height to a maximum of 2 inches is best as higher heights can cause gait and or muscle imbalances all the way up to the lower back. I often refer to the higher heels as the “bar to the car” shoes as their aesthetic value super cedes their podiatric value. They should be worn for a minimal amount of time and “just for show”. If they look good but do not feel good then they are not good for you. Keep this in mind when in the shoe store. Do not let the salesperson convince you, you will “break them in”. If they hurt in the store than they will continue to hurt long after you leave the shop.
An avid runner should replace their sneakers every 6 months or when you start to notice the treads wearing out. Make the most you can out of your foot health. After all we are only given one pair of feet, therefore it is imperative that we make our feet happy.
by Rosanna Troia, DPM
Dr Troia’s practice is located at:
West 72nd Street Suite 1A NY NY 10023