Common Afflictions – Shoes

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Shoes and Foot Health

Shoes are an important part of your clothing, comfort, and fashion. Selecting the appropriate shoe for a specific activity and having it fit properly are the key elements for comfort, function and safety. The five basic types of shoes are:

  • Casual Shoes: For almost all everyday occasions, oxfords, loafers, low-heel pumps and moccasins are most common.
  • Dress Shoes: Usually worn for special occasions.
  • Athletic Shoes: A wide variety exists for specific sports.
  • Work Shoes: Worn for safety, function and comfort.
  • Corrective Shoes: Designed to accommodate structural foot abnormalities in a child, adult or the elderly.

Shoes Have Many Components

  • Upper: Outer layer of shoe material, often leather or canvas.
  • Toe Box: Area surrounding the toes.
  • Vamp: This cradles the area where the toes are connected to the foot, called the metatarsals.
  • Counter: Stiff material on either side of the heel.
  • Last: Shape of the shoe.

Components of Shoes – What to Look For

Modern day footwear has become a fashion statement with protection, comfort, function and hygiene dropping in priority. When shopping for shoes, podiatric surgeons recommend that consumers follow the advice of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons: FIT: Shoes should fit snugly in the heel and provide ample room in the toe area. Shoes should not cause redness or irritation to any part of the foot.

  • Shape: Pointed toe shoes should accommodate for narrowing of the toe box.
  • Materials: For maximum comfort, look for breathable, lightweight materials that are strong yet supple. Best bets are leather and cotton canvas. Vinyl does not let the foot breathe.
  • Tread: Shoe soles should be chosen for how they interact with the surface on which they will come in contact.
  • Cushion: Shoes constructed with more cushioning will absorb more impact and better protect your feet.
  • Shoe Weight: Lighter shoes may seem more comfortable initially, but heavier shoes may provide more support.
  • Special Needs: Extra-depth shoes or custom-shoes may be necessary to accommodate for structural foot deformities. Consult a podiatric surgeon who is a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

Tips for Proper Shoe Fit

Purchase shoes are the end of the day, or after work or playing sports for best fit. Earlier in the day your feet are at their smallest and you may purchase shoes which are too tight.

  • Measure both feet. No two feet are the same size. Purchase shoes for the larger foot.
  • Wiggle your toes in the shoes. If you can’t, the shoes are probably too small.
  • Walk around the store to ensure a comfortable fit before buying.
  • Try on shoes with the socks or hose with which you will wear them.
  • Don’t rely on the shoe “stretching” to fit. Shoes should feel good when you try them on.
  • Ensure the widest part of your foot fits comfortably, but securely, in the shoe.

Shoe-Fitting Tips

Feet are usually the last part of a baby to emerge during delivery. But they are one of the first things to worry parents. Here are some tips for healthy growing feet and ankles:

  • When possible, allow babies to go shoeless.
  • Use shoes for protection and balance when the child starts to walk.
  • Leave ample space between the child’s longest toe and the front of the shoe.
  • Ensure shoes are held snug against the heel without slippage.
  • Toddlers rarely say their shoes don’t fit, so look for irritation, blisters, uneven wear, excessive perspiration or pain.

During pregnancy, a woman’s feet may grow a half to a full size permanently. Simple things women can do to ease pregnancy-related foot discomfort include:

  • Wear an arch support to help support the extra weight feet will be carrying during pregnancy.
  • Wear athletic or running shoes with a roomy toe box.
  • Wear support stockings to minimize foot and ankle swelling.

People with diabetes may lose feeling in their feet, become more susceptible to injury, and have a harder time healing sores. To prevent serious damage, including ulcers and infections, take special precautions including:

  • Wear cushioned, athletic, walking or casual shoes.
  • Wear a good arch support to reduce pressure to the heel and ball of the foot.
  • Examine feet daily to ensure good foot health.
  • Have bi-annual examinations by a podiatric surgeon who is a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

Your Feet Should Not Hurt

People often have foot pain and believe there is nothing they can do about it. The fact is, a podiatric surgeon treats problems such as heel pain, arch pain, birth deformities, tumors, arthritic and diabetic foot deformities, ankle sprains and fractures, bunions and hammertoes, and other conditions.Your foot is a network of 26 bones, 29 joints, and many muscles. On average, you take several thousand steps every day. Each step and every sport in which you participate places great pressure on the foot and ankle. It is no wonder most people experience foot and ankle problems during their lifetime.

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© 1994-2009 The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons