My Shoes Are Hurting Me: Picking The Right Footwear to Reduce Foot Pain

An ingrown toenail, a painful callous, a sore heel or a throbbing knee? My shoes are hurting me, what can I do? Putting it in perspective, you will often find there is a trail of evidence leading up to one of these incidents or injuries. Here are some of the most common cause-and-effects of foot pain:

  1. A sore nail bed or cuticle may come from a shallow toe box or a short shoe fitting. As you walk, your toe continuously crushes against the end of the shoe, leading to short-term pain and damage.
  2. A callous is an indication of friction or movement inside the shoe. Callouses form when a part of your body is experiencing long-term friction
  3. Heel, knee, hip, back or even neck pain may come from poor alignment that can sometimes be seen by distortion or unusual wear in shoes.
  4. Plantar fasciitis may be caused by thin shoes that do not provide adequate shock absorption from your daily environment. If you’re constantly walking on hard surfaces such as concrete and metal, or uneven/awkward surfaces such as ladders, the plantar fascia may become damaged and inflamed.
  5. Bunions may be caused by wearing shoes that are far-too narrow in the forefoot region, leading the big toe (hallux) to migrate inwards towards the mid-line of the foot. This effect is especially compounded when the heel of the foot is raised allowing gravity to push the bodyweight fully into the forefoot’s space (as is seen with high-heels).
  6. Hammertoes can be caused by irregular wear, misalignment, poorly fitting shoes, and more. There is a common correlation between bunions and hammer toes, as the bunion tends to push the hallux over the second toe, causing it to curl into a hammertoe.

Many of these conditions can be diagnosed by your Family Physician or evaluated by a Health Care Professional familiar with body mechanics, including a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. Once the damage is done though, what can you do to reverse it and prevent it from reoccurring in the future?

Appropriate footwear is a good starting place, and these are some things you can look for in your next set of kicks:

  • Deep toe boxes,
  • Firm heel counters,
  • Cushioned rocker soles,
  • Foot-friendly seam placement

Additionally, slip-on shoes may be convenient, but an adjustable closure is more secure for walking and standing. If you have difficulty lacing due to back or hand disability, Velcro closures might help, although these will tend to loosen with vigorous activity. There are also elastic no-tie shoelaces that can be used to enjoy some of the conveniences associated with slip-ons. (Which we retail here at Thera-Ped).

Man Tying Dress Shoes

Stockings/socks are often overlooked as a comfort solution. Avoid patterned or ribbed knits, as the unevenness of the material can provide unnecessary irritation or points of pressure. Many synthetics have real advantages, with fibre blends offering unique properties for cushion and friction reduction. Cotton and wool may be the standard, but there is great variation in products. Just because the label makes claims such as “diabetic sock,” does not guarantee quality. All cotton becomes more abrasive with laundering, and knowing when to discard and move to a new pair is critical. Often a synthetic yarn with anti-bacterial treatments will be a better long-term buy. Socks are often discounted but spending the extra $10 in the short-term can have various long-term benefits for your foot health.

In-shoe devices such as cushioned foot-beds or custom orthotics are helpful in repositioning the foot and alleviating pressure and friction that lead to joint and muscle pain. They can often improve ankle, knee, hip, and back posture, improving or eliminating pain symptoms. Foot orthotics are assessed, designed, and fitted by a certified Health Care Professional familiar with body mechanics and how the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles respond to activity. These devices can range from soft though flexible to rigid depending on activity level, weight, occupation, or shoe type, so they are truly particular to you and your lifestyle.

If you experience pain or disability and this is a limiting factor in your activities or enjoyment of them, talk to your Physician about getting a biomechanical assessment, orthopedic footwear or foot orthotics.

More questions than answers? You can get more information on orthotics, footwear and pedorthic services at Thera-Ped Foot and Ankle Clinic by calling (506) 632-9397, or book an appointment today with our Canadian Certified Pedorthists.

Posted in , , , , on June 26, 2022