Footwear

Foot Doctor in Montebello – Dr. Ara Kelekian 

Many people are more concerned about how a shoe looks than how it affects their foot health. However, if you are putting fashion ahead of function, you might be causing harm to your feet and ankles.

With a better understanding of the construction of a shoe and how to select the proper shoe for specific activities, you will be able to improve the overall health of your feet and ankles. Don’t worry; functional shoes can still be fashionable. You just need to understand what to look for when purchasing shoes.

The information below can help you when selecting footwear:

Footwear for Deformities

Foot deformities can be present at birth or can be acquired as you age. In either case, if you have a foot deformity, finding comfortable footwear can be difficult. However, there are options available.

Custom-made shoes can be tailored to your specific foot deformity to help reduce pain and prevent injury. Plaster casts and strappings can be used on your feet to correct deformities.

Learn more about these options for dealing with foot deformities:

To get fitted for custom-made shoes or to find out if plaster casts or strappings can help correct your foot deformity, schedule an appointment with a skilled podiatrist.

Anatomy of a Shoe

You might think of your shoes as just another part of your wardrobe. However, your shoes are an important part to the health of your feet. By selecting a shoe that is well constructed and properly sized for your feet, you can help improve your overall foot health.

Components of a shoe

Although you might not think about it, your shoes are made up of various components. In many cases, the construction and fit of these individual components can either improve your foot health or lead to injury and certain foot ailments.

Toe Box

As its name implies, the toe box is the part of the shoe that covers your toes. Toe boxes can be wide or narrow and may be pointed, rounded, or squared. To best avoid issues, your toe box should be wide and long enough to allow you to wiggle your toes. A toe box that is too small can cause numerous issues, including:

  • Bruised toenails.
  • Bunions.
  • Hammertoes.

Sole

The sole is the bottom part of the shoe. It is sometimes referred to as two separate pieces: insole and outsole. The insole is the part of the shoe that has direct contact with the bottom of your foot. The shoe’s outsole is the portion that contacts the ground when you walk. Softer soles can better absorb shock; however, this is not always the best option, for activities like cycling you would want a firmer sole. In most cases, you want the sole of your shoe to be flexible while still providing support. Too much or too little support can lead to foot pain.

Heel

The heel is located at the back of the shoe and it adds height to the shoe. For better foot health, it is recommended that you wear a shoe with a low heel (preferably half of an inch or smaller) and a wide toe box. However, you may be tempted by the fashion of high heels. It is important to note that high heels can lead to numerous problems, including:

  • Achilles tendinitis.
  • Ankle sprains and strains.
  • Blisters, corns, and calluses.
  • Bone spurs.
  • Hagland’s deformity, often called “pump bump”.
  • Metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of your foot).
  • Neuromas.

Vamp

The vamp is the top and middle section of your shoe, typically where laces, Velcro, or straps would be. The vamp should provide adequate support to ensure that your foot does not slip out of the shoe, as this can lead to an ankle sprain.

Shoe construction

Shoes come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. The construction and design of your shoes can either give support to your foot or cause harm.

Styles

Some shoes are designed only for fashion. Other shoes are designed for comfort and support. It is important to find a shoe that not only looks good, but also properly supports your foot. For example, fashionable shoes with a high heel, a narrow toe box, an inflexible sole, and very stiff leather vamps can cause numerous foot problems. Conversely, an athletic shoe with a flat heel, a wide toe box, a cushioned sole, and a breathable vamp material can provide support to your foot.

Materials

Shoes made from a stiff material, like some leathers, can put unnecessary pressure on your foot and cause problems including calluses and corns. Softer materials have more “give” and will allow your foot to better move.

Proper sizing

It is important that you wear shoes that fit properly. You might think you know your shoe size; however, your foot can change sizes as you age. Also, some shoes might not be true to size. Because of this, each time you purchase new shoes you should:

  • Have both of your feet measured while you stand.
  • Try on each pair of shoes to ensure they feel like they fit.
  • Buy your shoes at the end of the day when your feet might be swollen.
  • Make sure you can wiggle your toes in the toe box.
  • Not buy shoes that you need to “break in.” Shoes should fit properly when you buy them.

If you are unsure if you are wearing the best shoes for your feet, visit your podiatrist. You can have your shoes evaluated and your feet properly measured.

Orthotics

Orthotics are shoe inserts that can help correct an abnormal walking pattern. By changing the angle that your foot makes contact with the ground, orthotics can reduce pain, prevent foot conditions, and protect your feet. Orthotics can be custom made to fit your specific needs or purchased over the counter. They also have various levels of rigidity to assist with specific needs.

Learn more about the various types of orthotics:

To get fitted for custom-made orthotics or to learn more about how these shoe inserts can help you, schedule an appointment with a skilled podiatrist.

Types of Shoes

Not all shoes are created equal. Some shoes are designed simply for style and do not give you the comfort and support you need to avoid injury, feet deformities, or other conditions.

It is possible to find stylish shoes that do not hurt your feet; you just need to know how to find them. Learn more about the importance of proper shoes and how to select the best footwear for your needs:

If you are unsure whether your shoes are the cause of your foot pain, visit a skilled podiatrist to have your feet examined and your shoes evaluated.

Wear Patterns

Shoes are not meant to last forever. Over time, you will begin to notice the erosion of the sole of your shoes, as well as other changes in the structure of your shoes. These wear patterns can help determine if you have a proper gait (walk). They can also detect problems with your feet.

Various wear patterns

Wear patterns can be seen on the:

  • Sole- Because your foot strikes the ground in a repetitive motion when wearing shoes, wear and tear will naturally be present on the bottom of your shoe. These patterns can be concentrated on the instep, the outer edge, the heel, the forefront, or a combination of these areas.
  • Midsole and insole- The layers of your shoe between the sole and your foot can also indicate a pattern of wear. Your podiatrist can examine your insole to determine if there is excess wear in one section, indicating a potential problem.
  • Toe box- Abnormal wear of the toe box will show either on the top or the sides of the area. This would be caused by your toes pressing into the outer material of the shoe.
  • Upper/overall structure of shoe- In addition to regular wear, your shoe’s structure can be altered by an abnormal gait or problems with the biomechanics of your foot.

Because shoes can wear differently, it is important to examine the wear pattern of several different pairs of your shoes when looking for problems. If all of your shoes have similar abnormal wear patterns, you might have a problem with your foot itself, as opposed to a gait issue that could be caused, in part, by the type of shoe you are wearing.

Using wear patterns to detect foot problems

By examining the wear patterns on your shoe, a skilled podiatrist might find issues with either your foot’s functioning or the way you walk. Some of these issues can be corrected simply by purchasing orthotics or the correct shoes for your activity. Other foot problems might need additional treatment.

Some problems your podiatrist can diagnose from your shoe’s wear patterns include:

  • Bunions.
  • Overpronation.
  • Supination (under-pronation).
  • Hammertoes.
  • Altered weight-bearing.
  • Flat Feet.
  • Gait problems.
  • Poor shoe fit/improper shoe for activity.

If your shoe’s wear patterns are abnormal, visit your podiatrist to find the best treatment for your foot problems.