3 best tips for selecting footwear to ease your pain
1. The shoe needs to be secure on the foot
I like to think of this as the “shake test”. If you shake your foot, would it fall off? Your shoe needs to hold securely on your foot, otherwise you will need to claw your toes and flick your feet up to keep it on your foot when walking, which alters your walking pattern and leads to inefficiency and potentially pain and injury, both in the foot, and further up the movement chain in your legs or even lower back. Selecting footwear that has laces and is fitted well to your foot is the solution.
2. Stiff mid sole
The foot is often described in 3 parts-the hind foot (the heel), the forefoot (the ball of the foot and the toes) and the mid foot (the bit in between). When we walk, we push off by hinging through the ball of our foot, so this is where our shoes should bend. Many shoes are very flimsy and are also flexible through the mid sole which means that excessive forces may be transferred to the mid foot, leading to pain and injury in this area. To test this, hold the 2 ends of your shoe and try to bend the toe end towards the heel. There should be some bend in the shoe correlating to where the ball of your foot is positioned, but not through the middle of the sole.
3. Solid heel cup
This is, as the name suggests, the back of the shoe which cups around the heel. This part of the shoe should be quite rigid in order to help control the heel position. To test this, see if you can push the back of the heel cup down onto the inner sole where your heel sits. It should ideally push inwards less than 45 degrees. The heel position is critical in determining foot posture and how the foot absorbs the forces as we walk and run. Poor heel position can often be a significant contributor to plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendon injuries.
So test out your shoes at home and see which ones past these tests. And then let’s get running or walking!!
Please ask me any questions you may have about selecting footwear or the above tests on our Ask the myPhysioGuru page here.
I am here to help.
Senior Associate Physiotherapist with myPhysioSA Mount Barker Adelaide Hills Physio