Are we asking ourselves while choosing shoes? You’ve known the pain is coming. You need to get out of bed and get going, but you know that the first step out of bed is going to hurt. Not just hurt, it’s going to feel like an ice pick jumped up out of the floor into your heel, and maybe up the arch of your foot all the way to your toes. After a few steps, maybe the pain gets a little better. Then after a hot shower, you tell yourself, “Okay, I can do this today. It’s not gonna be so bad anymore. I bet the pain will go away today.”
Fast forward four hours. You’ve put in a half-day at work and its time to get off your feet and sit down for lunch. “Whew, my feet were more tired than I realized, but at least they don’t hurt,” you think to yourself. As your lunch hour wraps up, you hop up to get back to work. “AAHHHH! WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WRONG WITH MY FOOT?!?!?” you ask yourself again as you limp back to your post. The pattern of heel and foot pain has become a vicious cycle. Wake up. Hurt. Feel a little better. Rest for just an hour. Hurt again.
Unfortunately, living with foot pain is typical for many of us. No one is immune. Athletes, moms, teachers, waitresses, construction workers, accountants, truck drivers are all among the labels I could apply to patients I’ve treated in the past with heel pain. The wife is another one I probably shouldn’t leave off the list. The factors that contribute to foot and heel pain are infinite. High arches, low arches, carrying a few extra pounds, carrying a child, running three miles a day, running only three miles in the past three years, and the list goes on and on.
Another often overlooked factor is footwear. High heeled shoes (as pictured above) shift loads to the ball of the foot that the foot was never intended to bear. They can cause pressure on nerves that can leave you feeling a numb sensation in your toes. They can shift the biomechanics of the ankle in a way that can cause premature wear and tear of the cartilage leading to arthritic changes in the foot. Don’t get me started on Achilles pain, knee pain, oh and the back pain that will haunt you! Maybe you aren’t a fan of stilettos. Let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. $5 clearance rack, gas station flip flops, chànclàs, toe holders. I don’t care what you call them. They are a trip hazard and a sure-fire guarantee for an orthopedic nightmare at some point as well. The lack of arch support lends itself to excessive forces on the plantar fascia that can cause heel pain and lead to a fallen arch that ends up weakening the ankle. As your foot biomechanics change, so does the mechanics of the knee. Again, the problems keep working their way up the kinetic chain.
I’m a huge believer in the old saying, “You get what you pay for,” when it comes to shoes. I’m not saying we all need a $450 pair of diabetic approved, orthopedic recommended custom-fit shoes that look like they’ve been stolen from great grandma’s closet in the nursing home. But I am saying you need a pair of shoes that fit your foot, fit your needs, fit your job, fit your activity level. Today’s shoe industry offers a huge selection of really high-quality shoes for just about any style. You can find something to fit your needs on a surprisingly affordable budget. A conversation with your local physical therapist can get you headed in the right direction to getting you some relief from your pain.
Once you’ve found the right shoes your pain may not just disappear. Depending on the punishment you’ve subjected your body to, you may need corrective exercises, stretches, and home exercises to help you learn how to manage and improve your pain. You may have already started to have other “nagging” pains in the knees and back that your physical therapist will be able to address. The investment in yourself and good shoes will be nothing compared to the pain and suffering, missed time from activities with your family, or any of the other medical costs you may incur later in life. For more details contact our office at Bridgeport, TX today!