An ingrown toenail, a painful callous, a sore heel or a throbbing knee? When the aggravation persists, what can you do? Putting it in perspective, you will often find there is a trail of evidence leading up to one of these incidents or injuries.
A sore nail bed or cuticle may come from a shallow toe box or a short shoe fitting. A callous is an indication of friction or movement inside the shoe. Heel, knee, hip, or back pain may come from poor alignment that can sometimes be seen by distortion or unusual wear in shoes. Many of these conditions can be diagnosed by your Family Physician or evaluated by a Health Care Professional familiar with body mechanics.
Appropriate footwear is a good starting place. Deep toe box, firm heel counter, cushioned rocker soles, and foot-friendly seam placement are all features that should be considered. 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.
Stockings are often overlooked as a comfort solution. Avoid patterned or ribbed knits. 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 says “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. There is likely to be a more significant difference between a $5 and $15 stocking than the price.
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.