If you suffer from deteriorative arthritis, please Schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists as soon as possible.
What to Look For in a Functionally Supportive Shoe, What to Avoid!
All feet were not made the same. Just like body shapes, feet come in all shapes and sizes. As we get older and accumulate more steps to our feet, our feet continue to acclimate and adjust to our environment. The width, girth, length, and arch height may all continually change depending on the amount of steps you take, the environment (terrain) you take your feet to, and how flexible your foot is; You may not always be able control the terrain you walk, run, or exercise in, but you can unquestionably control how your feet absorb energy from the ground up (Ground reactive forces). This is where shoe gear can prevent injuries, wear and tear, and pain. A “good” shoe is subjective to the eye/foot of the beholder, but a functionally supportive shoe is a shoe that successfully protects the foot (the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles), absorbs the ground reactive forces of both feet, and provides a pain-free strides during the gait cycle.
The life of an effective shoe depends on the resilience and elasticity of the midsole of a shoe. The big toe joint of the foot (the first metatarsophalangeal joint) acts as the fulcrum to the forces of the load and effort of the lower leg (tibia and fibula and calf muscle complex, respectively). Simply put, when the midfoot and rearfoot joints (the tarsometatarsal joints and midtarsal joints) are not supported by the outsole or the midsole of the shoe, the foot expends more energy for each push off phase of the gait cycle. When more energy and force are directed to the same joints foot over time, injuries and early onset of arthritic symptoms (Joint degeneration) may occur. So, the next time you look for a walking shoe, a hiking shoe, or a sports specific shoe, check the integrity of the midsole and outsole. If the midsole at the level of the midfoot does not return its shape within one second of the a forceful bend and twist, the effectiveness of the shoe is significantly decreased.
Figure A. A simplified anatomy of a tennis shoe
Do I need Orthotics?
The short answer is, orthotics can tremendously support the arch, or the instep of your foot. For some biomechanically advantageous feet, a good shoe may be all that is needed to absorb ground reactive forces. For most of us, an orthotic (a rigid arch support) provides extra shock absorption and rearfoot control. When the midfoot and rearfoot have a biomechanical advantage, the legs, the hips, the spine expend less energy in each stride, are less prone to injury, and maintain optimal alignment and posture.
What type of orthotics should I get?
It depends. Your foot may have higher arch, flatter arch, curled toes, forefoot pain, heel pain, midfoot pain, ankle pain, or toe pain. Orthotics specifically made for certain types of shoes (ie. Formal/dress shoes, tennis/hiking shoes, sports specific shoes) can be fabricated according to your needs. Don’t let your feet feel pain before seeing a foot and ankle specialist.
Please consult with your foot and ankle specialist to determine whether orthotics would be a good fit for your feet.