Last updated on February 16th, 2024
Are your feet in pain? Have you considered the significance of quality footwear? Research suggests that an individual covers approximately 110,000 miles during their lifespan – an equivalent of circumnavigating the globe nearly five times! Now envision traversing all those steps in your current choice of shoes.
The relationship between the well-being of our feet and the shoes we wear is unquestionable. Footwear has the power to either benefit or harm our feet. As a regular runner, we should know the basic knowledge of how to alleviate foot pain and rectify deformities caused by improper footwear. By educating yourself on the types of shoes to steer clear of and the potential foot issues they may cause, you can also take proactive measures to prevent major foot damage.
Know More About Your Feet
Many millennia ago, our ancestors roamed the earth barefoot, engaging in various physical activities. Surprisingly, a fossil from 40,000 years ago revealed the presence of fragile toe bones, suggesting that shoe-wearing was a common practice even back then. This discovery implies that humans have relied on footwear to safeguard and cover our feet for a substantial portion of our existence. Whether we appreciate or despise them, shoes are here to stay, necessitating our careful selection of footwear that minimizes any potential issues. To begin this process, it is crucial to comprehend the specific requirements of our feet.
The foot of a human being is composed of 26 bones, 30 joints, and more than 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Additionally, our feet possess a remarkable sensitivity. With over 7,000 nerve endings in each foot, they transmit crucial information regarding the stability of the surface, the temperature, and the incline. These various components collaborate harmoniously to enable us to execute intricate movements essential for walking, standing, and maintaining equilibrium.
Our feet serve a greater purpose than just allowing us to move. They carry our weight, absorb shocks, and serve as the base for the rest of our skeleton. When our feet are not in good health, it affects our entire body, extending beyond our ability to walk, maintain balance, or have a full range of motion.
In response to foot pain, injury, or deformity, our legs, hips, and other structures will compensate or become misaligned. To alleviate back pain, one of the first steps is to wear shoes that provide support for the feet and relieve pressure on the pelvis and spine. When our feet are happy and healthy, it has a positive impact on the rest of our joints and skeletal system.
The well-being of our feet relies on the right footwear, as it provides the necessary protection and support. Hence, selecting appropriate shoes is crucial for maintaining our overall health.
Foot Injuries Caused by Shoes
One of the causes of foot pain, injury, and deformity is wearing inappropriate shoes. Let's take a look at the most frequent injuries linked to wearing the wrong footwear.
Bunions, medically known as Hallux Valgus, occur when the bone located at the base of the big toe enlarges. This growth can cause the foot to twist inward, resulting in discomfort and inflammation. Although women who wear tight-fitting shoes are more prone to developing bunions, this condition can affect anyone. To prevent bunions, it is advisable to replace narrow-toed shoes with those that have wider or square-shaped toe boxes. Treatment for bunions can be either non-surgical or involve a bunionectomy, a surgical procedure.
- Fractures, Sprains, and Strains
The likelihood of experiencing slips, trips, falls, and missteps is higher when wearing inappropriate shoes. Moreover, there is a greater risk of fractures, particularly when wearing ill-fitting footwear. Insufficient traction or difficulty in walking due to shoes lacking proper tread can result in damage to the ligaments and tendons of the foot and ankle (strains and sprains). Recovery from these injuries may take several days to weeks.
Hammertoe manifests when the muscle loses strength, causing the tendon to lift the joint of the second toe. Wearing excessively pliable flat shoes or high heels can contribute to the development of hammertoe, while regular footwear can lead to the formation of calluses or corns on these toes, thereby intensifying discomfort.
- Claw Toes
Claw toes occur when one to four toes on the foot bend into a rigid claw shape. Wearing shoes can be uncomfortable due to the unnatural position of the toes, causing pain. Friction from shoes can lead to ulcers on the toes, as well as the formation of corns or calluses. Claw toes typically arise from neurological conditions or poorly fitting footwear.
Non-surgical remedies such as strapping and sporting spacious footwear that accommodates the toes can effectively address hammertoes and claw toes. In the event that these approaches prove ineffective, surgical intervention might be advised to rectify the deformity.
- Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis arises from the irritation of the plantar fascia, a robust strip of tissue extending from the heel to the front of the foot. More than 2 million individuals encounter plantar fasciitis, which is the primary origin of heel discomfort. Inflammation results from excessive use, prolonged standing on a rigid surface, aging, and the use of unsupportive footwear such as flip-flops or excessively flexible flats or sneakers.
- Diabetic Feet
Individuals with diabetes face various foot problems, including reduced sensitivity and the potential for amputation due to severe infections. Peripheral neuropathy (PN), a frequent complication of diabetes, leads to foot pain and numbness. Those with PN are advised to be cautious when selecting shoes, as they are prone to infections from unnoticed wounds and poor blood circulation in the feet. It is important for diabetics to steer clear of tight or poorly fitting footwear and seek guidance from their healthcare provider for alternative shoe options.
How to Avoid Foot Injuries with Correct Shoes?
Medical professionals understand that it is unlikely they will be able to persuade the general population to give up fashionable footwear in favor of orthopedic options. Rather, doctors aim to inform individuals about the importance of foot health and encourage them to exercise moderation and personal awareness when choosing shoes. By making wiser decisions regarding their footwear, people can prevent foot issues that may arise from wearing certain types of shoes.
- Right Shoe for Right Activity
Different types of shoes serve specific purposes. To avoid getting hurt while playing sports, it's important to wear the appropriate footwear, such as baseball cleats or soccer shoes. On construction sites, it's advisable to wear sturdy, closed-toed boots to prevent foot fractures. When exploring nature, opt for hiking boots or shoes with solid grip and ankle support to avoid spraining your ankle on uneven terrain. It's not recommended to walk barefoot on hard surfaces like wooden floors, as this can cause overuse injuries.
- Reduce Time for Wearing High-heels Shoes
For those who frequently don high heels, it is advisable to restrict the duration of time spent wearing such footwear. Seek out heels that are thicker, wedged, or no taller than three inches, as this will alleviate the pressure on the front of the foot, arch, and alleviate strain on the hips and back. By implementing these straightforward modifications, you can effectively ward off prevalent orthopedic issues in women, such as bunions, hammertoe, sprains, and other related conditions.
- Choose Correct Size for Your Shoes
As you grow older, your feet have the ability to alter their shape and dimensions. Therefore, it is crucial to have your feet measured before purchasing new footwear. Opting to try on shoes in the evening, when your feet are more likely to be slightly swollen from daily use, will guarantee that you do not end up purchasing shoes that are too snug and restrictive.
- Give Up Your Old Shoes
We may have a tendency to hold onto our shoes until the soles are completely worn out, but by that point, they have probably deteriorated to the extent that they cause foot discomfort and pain. The purpose of shoes is to safeguard and provide support to our feet. If your shoes are starting to show signs of wear, but you're not ready to let go of them just yet, you can try using insoles or getting them resoled. Shoes that fail to cushion our feet can lead to conditions such as plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and tendonitis, which alter the way we walk and affect our natural alignment.
- Rotate Your Shoes Regularly
As previously mentioned in another article, rotating your running shoes not only lowers the chance of getting hurt, but also lengthens the time you can use them and improves how well you run each time.
What to Consider When Buying Shoes?
When you're out shopping for new shoes, it's important not to put too much trust in the size label as it can vary between different brands. Instead, take the time to try the shoes on, take a stroll around, and truly pay attention to how they feel on your feet. Let your comfort be the ultimate deciding factor. In addition, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do the soles provide enough strength?
- Are they capable of shielding you from piercing objects?
- If the heel is raised, does it evenly distribute your weight and keep your ankle stable?
- Are you more susceptible to stumbling or tumbling?
- Does the shoe's footbed align with the contours of your foot?
- Ensure that the arch support complements the configuration of your foot. For instance, how do your other joints feel during walking?
If your responses to these questions are unfavorable, opt for a different choice of footwear. Because each person is unique and faces their own difficulties, there is no universal remedy for foot health, we need to find the shoes that suit us best.