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Modern footwear can be problematic. Rigid soles, narrow toe-boxes and raised heels can change the structure and function of the feet potentially leading to, or exacerbating, foot and lower quarter injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
Here are the four biggest problems with modern footwear and what to look out for when picking a shoe:
Toe spring / raised heel
Like normally-shaped feet, shoes should be level. Unfortunately most are not. All too often they are either elevated at the heel (heel lift), elevated at the toes (toe spring), or both. A raised heel places more load on the forefoot, whilst a toe spring places more strain on the muscles that flex the toes – this is a common factor in plantar fasciitis.
What to do
Pick a shoe with no/ minimal heel lift and no toe spring. (Toe spring is not such a problem if it is very flexible and automatically corrects when weight-bearing).
Footwear with a Narrow Toe Box
The natural shape of the foot is widest at the toes (see image). Unfortunately, shoes very often taper at the toe and consequently are widest at the ball of the foot. This results in compression of the toes which can lead to inhibit the important stabilisers of the feet and also later lead to deformity.
What to do
To check the shoe is wide enough pull out the insole and overlay your foot on top. The insole should be spacious enough that the foot, and especially the toes, do not splay over the insole at any point. If the insole doesn’t come out of the shoe you can turn the shoe upside down and overlay your foot on the underside of the sole.
Thick / Stiff Soles
Just like the hands, the feet are sensory organs which provide the body with information from the environment. Thick soles block this information and can affect the functioning of the foot. Stiff soles increase the lever arm from the ankle to the forefoot placing a greater strain on the Achilles, which is problematic for calf and Achilles injuries.
What to do
Pick a shoe with a thinner, flexible sole. To test fold and twist the shoe – the shoe should deform with minimal effort.
NB: If you have very weak, or very flat feet you may need a less flexible sole with more support.
Natural footwear for foot pain relief
Finding a shoe with all of these qualities can be difficult, however more shoe companies are starting to recognise the importance of footwear that allow the foot to function naturally. VIVOBAREFOOT are one such company and one that we use and recommmend.
Are you looking for Foot Pain Relief?
Click here to find out how treatment at Dynamic Health Jersey CI may help.
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‘Foot Pain Relief – shoe selection’ was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more information about Steffen click here.