Dealing with chronic foot pain? You’re not alone. Millions of people see their doctor or podiatrist every year for foot pain ailments including plantar fasciitis, corns, calluses, metatarsalgia, bunions, hammertoes, you name it. Many painful foot conditions can be treated or managed at home with a variety of remedies including wearing orthotics, foot stretches, massage, ice and heat therapy. Almost all of these conditions also require applying a keen eye toward your footwear. Try these 5 smart shoe upgrades for foot pain relief:
Get Your Foot Measured
Think you are wearing the right shoe size? You might want to check on that. While your shoes may feel “normal,” too often do people ignore the imperceptible adjustments their body is making to counteract bad footwear. Shoes that are too snug, too loose, worn down, or overly raise the heel can require the body to alter its normal pronation and stress key tissues like the plantar fascia or the Achilles tendon.
You can measure your foot at home (from your heel to the tip of your longest toe) and use a country-specific sizing chart to find the right size shoe for you, or simply ask an attendant at a shoe store to measure your foot for you. Have your feet measured in the afternoon when they are the biggest and with socks you normally wear.zz
Toss Out Old Shoes
Did you know that running shoes have pretty much run their course after about 500 miles? For an avid runner, that could add up to less than a year per pair of shoes. While a seemingly stringent guideline, avoiding wearing old shoes can play an important role in injury prevention.
Walking or running in shoes that have worn down soles on either side of your foot can actually cause you to under or over-pronate (where your ankle rolls too far outward or inward with each foot strike). Over time, this repeated action can affect the health of your feet, legs, knees, and even your hips contributing to IT band syndrome and Achilles tendonitis among other conditions.
While you might not be able to change the imperfect structure of your foot, you can use orthotic aids to support and stabilize these important appendages during physical activity. Insoles made of natural, organic material can be worn to protect against plantar fasciitis-related heel pain, arch supports can reinforce fallen arches, and hammertoe pads can prevent painful irritation and calluses.
When inactive, at night, for example, splints and braces can help stabilize and stretch the foot to prevent further injury. While a plethora of orthotic aids can be found over-the-counter or online, some may require a customization only your podiatrist can help you get. If chronic foot pain won’t leave you alone, talk to your doctor about orthotic assistance.
Skip the Heels
While high heels do offer added height and visual appeal for a woman, the real cost to the body is not worth it. In addition to forcing the toes into a point (increasing risk for developing bunions and hammertoes), high heels also place undue pressure on the balls of the foot and the heel, as well as disrupt the natural alignment of the spine. The higher up you raise your heels, the further forward your hips extend adding pressure to the knees, straining the lower back, and even shortening the calf muscles over time.
Wearing high heels has also been linked to increased risk for ankle sprains and other fall-related injuries. When possible, where stylish flats or shoes with a 1-inch heel or less instead of high heels and stilettos to avoid unwanted musculoskeletal issues.
Practice Good Shoe Hygiene
While leaving your shoes at the doorway when you enter your home does help prevent you from tracking dirt and contaminants inside, it can also make you forget to clean your shoes every now and then. Remember, your feet are contained in a closed space all day in your shoes; that warmth combined with moisture from sweat or external factors fosters a breeding ground that bacteria and fungi love.
If your shoes are smelling something awful, clean them according to their care instructions and use foot powder or spray each time you wear them. Practice routine foot care as well, making sure to thoroughly clean and dry feet, clip nails, and moisturize the skin daily. If your shoes get wet, make sure to let them completely dry out before wearing them again, and wear socks made of breathable materials like cotton that also have added antimicrobial and moisture-resistant properties.