Feet Hurting? Check Your Shoes
The human foot does an amazing job supporting the body, especially considering the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) states the average person takes 75,000 steps by the age of 50. Because the feet play direct roles in balance and mobility and indirect roles in activity level, heart health, and weight control, it is very important for people to take care of and pay attention to the health of their feet.
The shoes we wear can impact our feet, particularly with regards to helping to alleviate foot pain and soreness, which affect a vast number of American adults. Considering the human foot is made up of over 50 bones and nearly 200 ligaments, tendons, and muscles, and has a variable shape due to medical conditions and genetics, feet are more complex than most people give them credit for. Supportive shoes can help a number of people with a variety of different conditions, and may ease or even eliminate foot pain and additional problems down the line.
Why is it so important to choose the right shoes?
Foot problems affect a large percentage of Americans, from everyday foot pain to more severe problems, such as those associated with flat feet, diabetes, foot pain, or Achilles Tendonitis. Over time, people with these conditions may lose feeling in their feet or toes, lose motion in their feet or toes, find exercise painful, or live with constant pain in their toes due to swelling and stretching. This pain may eventually spread to the entire leg.
One of the main causes of foot pain is a lack of support in the shoe, particularly for those with conditions requiring support to a certain part of the foot. For example, those with flat feet need more support in the area of their foot where they have a lower arch, in order to keep the body from putting too much weight on that area. This is just one example of how a shoe can impact a person’s ability to move, walk, and experience less pain.
This works for other conditions, as well. Even if the person does not have a chronic medical condition, conditions involving tendons may arise from long-term exercise, such as running, or from wear and tear to the feet. Conditions like bunions may create painful spots where a person does not want to place pressure.
Regardless of the situation, the right shoes are important because they help to redistribute weight, fix balance, and support the body. By knowing what is right for your condition, you can start to feel relief immediately.
Shoe and Footwear Solutions For Various Problems
It is important to note that many foot problems can be resolved through a visit to your local podiatrist, or foot doctor. They can help you locate the underlying source of your pain. However, you may be able to resolve some or all of your pain at home, by changing the type of shoes or footwear you wear. Some common foot problems and their solutions are listed below for your convenience.
1. Diabetic Foot: Due to the distance of the foot from the heart and the complications of diabetes, many diabetics develop neuropathy, which is a loss of feeling in the feet and toes. This same damage can cause pain in the nerves in the feet. Sores and cuts can also develop, which can take longer to heal and may go unnoticed if a person is suffering from diabetic neuropathy. Custom-fit orthodic insoles can help provide support for your feet, which will keep them from experiencing a high level of pain. Most doctors also recommend special therapeutic footwear, which can reduce swelling and help to compress the foot, thereby keeping the pain under control. The APMA notes that this type of footwear keeps reinfection from occurring, and can help lessen damage as part of an ongoing treatment program.
2. Flat Feet Condition: Flat feet and fallen arches, in their most basic form, mean a person is either born with a very low arch, or no arch at all, or loses it over time due to weight gain, stress, pregnancy, or injury. Left untreated, this can be painful because the arch does not absorb shock. Sufferers of flat feet condition are urged to get insoles to place into their regular shoes that provides support where the shoe would hit the arch on a normal person, or to buy special orthodontic shoes to ease the condition. Supportive footwear is suggested at all times to combat the condition.
3. Plantar Fasciitis: This condition is caused by pain and inflammation in the plantar fasciitis, a band of muscle connecting your heels to your toes. Left unattended, it makes walking and running very difficult. There are a number of shoes, from sandals to tennis shoes, that have been developed to support the feet of those living with this condition. These shoes make normal activities bearable by keeping the foot stable and keeping weight and unneeded flexing under control.
4. Neuroma: These spots affect the ball of your foot, normally around the toes, and bring sharp pains, as though a person is standing on a tack or rock at all times. Left untreated, the condition becomes more painful. Surgery is an option, although many people have found that gel pads placed over the painful area help to eliminate the pain, as does switching to lower-heeled, better supporting shoes from high heels after a number of years.
5. Hammertoes and Bunions: A hammertoe is a condition in which a toe is permanently bent forward, while a bunion is a bump of bone which extends from a toe. Both conditions lead to difficulty walking and running, and may be caused by certain types of tight-fitting or non-supportive shoes. There are a number of patches available which are placed over the toe or bone patch to prevent rubbing and keep the spot from bothering the user, as well as orthodontic shoes designed to keep pressure off these spots to allow the person to walk as normal.
6. Achilles Tendonitis: This condition occurs when the bone connecting the heel to the back of the leg becomes inflamed. This condition can make bending and standing painful, and impacts a person’s quality of life. Compresses, supportive shoes, tube socks, and other orthopedic footwear have been invented to help people cope with this condition so they can enjoy exercises again.
While these are no means all of the types of foot-related health problems, it provides a sampling of how proper footwear can help a person take their life back. If you are suffering from foot pain, see a podiatrist to determine the source of your pain, and stop living with discomfort. Once you know, you will be able to change to more supportive footwear, or footwear specifically for your condition, so you can get back to living the life you deserve.