The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Foot Pain: Sometimes “Comfortable Shoes” Aren’t Good Enough

Posted by on Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

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Dansko clogs promise “the marriage of science and style… blending good looks with advanced comfort and health features.” Sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? They are just one of many companies reported to offer shoes that are better for your feet. Retailing at over $100 for most models, one would hope these “healthy” shoes live up to the expectation! Unfortunately, any podiatrist will tell you: buying “comfort shoes” from a “comfort shoe store” doesn’t guarantee they are good for your feet.

What Makes A Comfortable Shoe?

Generally speaking, a “comfort” shoe can be designed as footwear that adds extra cushioning and arch support. For instance, Birkenstocks come with a molded foot bed, indented heel cup, and metatarsal pad beneath the forefoot for better weight distribution.

Yet, science tells us these so-called “comfort shoes” aren’t a perfect solution for everyone. A small study conducted in 2010 concluded that walking in clogs and stability shoes was harder on the knees of osteoarthritis sufferers than walking in flip-flops — or even barefoot! Yes, supportive shoes have the power to alter your gait — but not always for the best.

Question: What Are The Best Shoes To Wear?

Answer: The best shoes for YOUR particular feet!

The reason comfort shoes do not work across the board is that an individual’s feet are just as unique as a fingerprint. We’re often asked what the “best shoes” are — and that really all just depends. Many people are surprised to learn that they needn’t spend $200 on a pair of shoes with a special “anatomical footbed.”

Before making a recommendation, we have to assess what type of foot you have and how you walk. We may ask you to walk on a treadmill connected to sensors or look at the wear pattern on your shoes. We’ll determine if you walk on the insides of your feet, if you have high arches or flat feet, and if you’re a heel-striker or a forefoot-striker. Wear patterns do not always indicate a problem, but if you have pain, a podiatrist can analyze the way you walk to alleviate issues.

orthotic
See what a difference a custom orthotic can make in your foot and ankle alignment. Image Source: PodiatryChannel.com

Orthotics Take Comfort To A Whole New Level

Podiatrists can take a mold of your feet and have a leather insole custom-made to fit your foot. This molding will raise the outer edge of the foot to raise supination or add arch support to improve pronation. The inserts are made to correct foot and ankle alignment so your knees, hips, and lower back are better supported. A 2008 study found that custom orthotics helped individuals who had high arches and supination.

Not everyone needs inserts, but they can make a world of difference for people with chronic foot pain. The American Orthopaedic Society recommends the use of orthotics for:

– Foot deformities

– Callouses

– Neuromas

– Metatarsal injuries

– Flatfoot

– Overpronation

– Leg length inequality

However, they add, “Orthotics are often over-prescribed and may not be useful for all diagnoses.” For instance, athletes should not wear rigid or hard orthotics because they may contribute to problems like neuromas, stress fractures, or inflammation of the forefoot called sesamoiditis. Sometimes just choosing the right support shoe and the right fit is sufficient.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.