The first time you spied an outdoors-lover wearing the popular shoes that are like custom-fitted second skins for the feet — also known as “five fingers” shoes — you may have been intrigued, horrified, or immediately sold on them.
Whatever your first impression was, they and other so-called “minimal shoes” are said to keep your feet stronger by mimicking the ever-changing topography of the ground, and you must adjust with each step as you walk in bare feet.
But don’t change all of your shoes out for these just yet. As with most things, there’s a time and place for everything. Choosing the right shoe is an important part of keeping your feet healthy.
Dr. Stephen G. Eichelsdorfer and the team at Town Center Foot & Ankle offer expert treatment for foot problems ranging from plantar fasciitis and bunions to arthritis and ingrown toenails. It may surprise you that your choice of footwear can affect not only your ankle, foot, and toe comfort, but your overall foot health, too.
How do my shoes affect the health of my feet?
You’d be surprised! People have long known that super-high heels, platforms, and ill-fitting shoes of every ilk can cause painful and unsightly foot problems like:
- Hammertoe: a condition in which your toe is bent downward
- Bunions: bony bumps at the base of your big toe joint on the interior of your foot
- Blisters: fluid-filled raised areas on your skin
- Ingrown toenails: nails that cut into your skin
It’s ironic that often, the cooler or cuter your shoes look, the more discomfort they can cause. Shoes that don’t give your toes room to breathe or offer don’t sufficient foot protection are frequently the culprits when it comes to foot problems. Existing issues with your feet can also be exacerbated by wearing the wrong shoes.
Poor shoe choices essentially force your foot into an uncomfortable position for a prolonged period of time. Features like narrow toe boxes and spiky heels that don’t offer a stable base to support your balance can really hurt in the long run.
Are all the “good for my feet” shoe options ugly?
Definitely not. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for shoes that promote good foot health:
- Know what your true foot size is
- Your toes should have ample room provided by a wide toe box; shoes shouldn’t be too short, and they shouldn’t bind on the sides
- Heels matter: thin, high ones are out; solid, lower ones provide your feet with stability
- A well-constructed insole provides needed support
- You increase your chances of purchasing comfortable shoes if you go shoe shopping in the late afternoon; this is the time when your feet are at their largest
- Don’t assume shoes get more comfortable by wearing them more; if they don’t feel good when you try them on, skip them
- If you have balance issues, it’s essential to wear hard-soled, supportive shoes with laces or Velcro®️ closures, and soles with treads to prevent slips
By following these simple tips, you can reduce your chances of suffering from many common foot problems. This single preventive strategy can help keep you out of the podiatrist’s office — though we always love to see you!
To learn more about how to put your best foot forward — in the proper shoes — call Dr. Ike and the Town Center Foot & Ankle team to make an appointment, or simply book one online through our website.