The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Are You Making This Shoe Mistake?

Posted by on Friday, May 15th, 2015

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running shoes
Running shoes are great–for running. Seek out other options for other activities. | Image source: Mark Buckawicki, Wikimedia Commons

NYC podiatrists see many patients who say they can’t understand why their feet hurt when they are wearing “good” shoes. Running shoes offer enough cushioning for putting in a lot of mileage and enough traction to prevent slipping around on slick grass or pavement. Therefore, many people believe that running shoes are the most comfortable type of athletic shoe for everyday use. However, wearing running shoes for aerobics, walking, or other activities can actually set people up for injury down the road. Patients with issues like plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, ankle sprains, metatarsalgia, seismoiditis, arch pain, stress fractures and pain in the legs, knees or back can all benefit from a change in footwear. Walking shoes or cross-trainers are better options for most people who are not going out on a run.

athletic shoe infographic
This infographic will help you choose the right type of shoe for a variety of activities. Image Source: Greatist.com

What Are The Differences Between Athletic Shoe Styles?

“Running involves repetitive, straight-line motion,” explains Dr. Josef J. Geldwert from The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. “These shoes are designed with a lot of cushioning to handle the continuous pounding, but they are not designed for lateral stability. So if you’re taking an aerobics class, shooting a game of hoops, or dancing in a pair of running shoes, your biomechanics can really be off.”

As the New Balance website explains:

– Running shoes are designed to absorb 2-3x your body weight, with strong heel cushioning and less protecting in the ball of the foot. The uppers are made of lightweight mesh that allows for better cooling.

– Walking shoes are designed to absorb 1-2x the body weight, with more flexible midsoles and better arch support.

– Cross-trainers are structured with lots of ankle and lateral support to handle everything from weight-lifting and step aerobics to 5-K runs and basketball games.

Tennis shoes are also very popular, especially among older Americans. Tennis-specific shoes offer lateral support for side-to-side movements and flexible soles to accommodate quick forward movements to the net. There is not a lot of shock absorption there. Therefore, tennis shoes are not usually a good choice if you do a lot of walking or standing. We treat a lot of people with arch pain who primarily wear tennis shoes.

Hiking boots should be used in place of walking shoes if you are covering uneven terrain, rather than pavement; if you are walking in wet conditions; or if you are carrying extra weight with a backpack. Otherwise, a basic lightweight walking shoe is preferable, as hiking boots tire out the legs and joints faster.

Top Cross-Trainer Picks

A recent article in Fox News Health recommended the following cross-training shoes for everything from circuit training to cardio classes:

– Adidas Vibe Energy Boost

– Reebok CrossFit Nano 4.0

– Under Armour UA Micro G Sting

– Nike Free TR Print

– New Balance 811

Asics Gel-Craze TR2

Another good place to check is the American Podiatric Medical Association’s “Seal of Acceptance” products. As you can see, ASICS are a big favorite of professional podiatrists!

When To Buy Sport-Specific Shoes

Naturally, it doesn’t make sense to have an entire closet full of different types of shoes–especially considering that the materials degrade over time, even if you’re not wearing the shoes all the time. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society recommends buying specialty athletic shoes if you participate in a particular sport three times or more per week.

Sometimes a simple change in footwear can go a long way in treating everyday foot aches and pains. Heel cups can add support for people with plantar fasciitis heel pain, while metatarsal pads can relieve pain in the ball of the foot or beneath the toes (sesamoiditis or metatarsalgia). Beware of some OTC arch support products, as these can really fundamentally change the way you walk and cause more problems, especially if your arch is not as high as you thought.

How NYC Podiatrists Can Help With Shoe Choice & Generalized Foot Pain

If over-the-counter products do not correct the problem within a few weeks, a podiatrist can be of service. In our office, we use 3-D modeling to create custom orthotic shoe inserts for our patients. These removable insoles are formed to the precise contour of your feet and can be placed in any pair of shoes you own. We use orthotics to treat many different types of foot pain with success. We can also assess the shape and structure of your feet and your walking biomechanics in our state-of-the-art gait analysis lab to counsel you on specific footwear choices that will provide you with the greatest amount of comfort. Our board-certified podiatrists and sports medicine doctors can also detail proper methods of icing, compression, elevation and pain relief at home, as well as administer cortisone shots or MLS pain laser for immediate relief associated with chronic pain conditions. Remember, pain is NOT normal! Contact us for more information on foot pain relief and shoe choice in NYC.

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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.