Monday, March 21, 2011

Picking The Proper Shoes To Prevent Foot Pain

The small size of these complex structures, in relation to the rest of the body, and the fact that they are the supportive foundation of the entire body, places an enormous burden upon them. Every step we take and the ensuing pounding places an additional amount of weight, and throughout the day can amount to many tons of weight that the feet are subjected too. This constant pounding, usually aggravated by improper footwear, leaves no doubt as to why most individuals will suffer some form of pain in either one or both feet.

Pains in the feet usually occur in three different areas of the foot. The front or ball of the foot (metatarsals), the middle (arch) and the back (heel). When the front of the foot or feet are affected and the pain is in the ball of the foot, it generally is diagnosed as metatarsalgia. In metatarsalgia, the pain can also intrude on the toes. There can also be conditions that affect one or more toes that are not related to metatarsalgia and of course this must be diagnosed.

Pain in the mid foot or feet are found in most instances to be caused by a flattened transverse arch. This flattening is caused by an overstretching of the transverse ligament leading to the breaking down of the arch. This is referred to as flat feet (pes planus). Conversely, the exact opposite will be an unusually high arch. That in of itself places a great deal of stress on the biomechanics of the feet, putting more pressure on the metatarsals and heel.

Pain in the heel is usually caused by some form of irritation to the underlying (plantar) fascia and ligaments, and also to the Achilles tendon. There are many causes for the great variety of aches and pains that can impact the foot or feet, as well as the many reasons for them.

The individual stricken with pain in one or both feet should seek a definitive diagnosis for their condition from their Chiropractor, Physician or Podiatrist, so that they will be more able to cope with their disability. And we must consider pain in the feet as disabling at best. We depend on our feet for standing, walking, running; playing sports, and of course any and all activities that are part of our daily lives.

The above explanation of pains that can occur in the feet is highly oversimplified. There are many diagnoses that cause a variety of these pains and symptoms. When the individual is aware of the cause for the pain after seeking a definitive diagnosis from their healthcare professional, they can then take charge of the needed self-care that is of the utmost importance for eliminating the pain and discomfort. For those who suffer in silence without seeking the means to get the much needed relief that may be only as far away as getting properly fitted shoes of good quality, I can just say, they are doing a great injustice to themselves.

The greatest advice that can be given to one and all is SEE TO YOUR SHOES! The wrong shoes can be the foremost cause of all the ailments that will befall us humans. Examine your shoes carefully to see how they wear. You will generally find that they are worn unevenly, signifying a weakness of the foot or feet on the uneven side. They should generally wear evenly if the biomechanics of the feet are correct. Examine the soles of both shoes. Should you find one sole is worn more, starting from the toe going back to the heel, will be an indication that the foot is overpronating (walking with the toes turned outward), and usually occurs in those with flat feet. Underpronation is usually found in individuals with high arches. When there is uneven wear of the heels on the outer edge, it is usually indicative of a foot imbalance.

Finding a proper fitting shoe can be a challenge that most of us go through all our lives, starting from childhood on into and throughout adulthood. Seniors in particular find it difficult to find a shoe that is comfortable and easy to walk in without some degree of discomfort. A cheap shoe is just that. When the materials used are of inferior quality and is poorly constructed, and most importantly not designed to fit properly, you have the potential for soreness and pain in the feet. The shoes will be prone to breakdown even under regular daily wear and especially so when given hard usage.

It then becomes extremely important to find a shoe that is ergonomically designed to fit the feet properly, giving the needed support to the structures of the feet. The materials used must be of the finest quality to withstand the rigors of the daily wear and tear they are put through. An improperly designed and poorly fitted shoe will cause calluses, bunions, corns, plantar fascitis, Achilles tendonitis, knee pain and pain that can translate to the legs.

When this scenario as described above is ongoing, the individual then becomes prone to other more serious consequences, such as back pain that can occur anywhere along the spine, from the lower back to the base of the skull. In other words, if the foundation is at fault, then the rest of the structure, in this case the whole body is in jeopardy of getting into very painful situations that affect the entire skeletal system.

When fitting your shoes, remember that your feet are different from everyone else. If you are uncertain whether you have a high, intermediate or flattened arch, you can determine that by doing the following: After a shower or bath, place a piece of heavy colored paper or even a brown bag on the floor. Step onto the paper with both feet. That will leave an imprint of your feet showing the outline of your arches. A full imprint of the foot signifies a flattened arch. An imprint that shows a full print with a concave curve is a normal arch. A print showing the ball and heel of the foot, with a severe concave curve is a high arch.

Knowing the type of foot biomechanics and how your shoes wear will be the best guide in choosing the right shoe for you. In my own quest for the right shoe I have checked out many brands and have probably worn most of them at one time or another. The final decision will be yours to make, depending on how they feel when you walk on them. The shoes you wear should be fitted so that you can feel the large toe joint at the widest part of the shoe. When sitting, be sure that the end of the big toe has approximately an inch of space at the tip of the shoe, so that when you stand, the toe will not be touching the shoe. The inner shoe should give the proper support to the foot and not allow the foot to lean to the side. In most instances a shoe with a lace, will allow for adjusting for a firmer support. Attention to these simple rules will greatly help in finding shoes that will be comfortable, easy to wear, and enhance your daily activities.

As mentioned previously, there are many conditions that can affect the feet, causing pain and disability. In future articles we will discuss some of these particular conditions and how to cope with them. For now, look to your shoes and walk in comfort!

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