Everyone knows that sore feet can be the difference between a good day and a bad day. The shoes you wear play a big role in determining how your feet feel. There is much more to a good pair of shoes then the colour and how soft they feel. Your shoes should be suited specifically to your foot and the way it moves, individual to you.
Your foot will match the shape of the shoe before the shoes match the shape of your foot. Therefore, it is important to your foot matches a better shape.
What features should I look for in my shoes?
- The upper of the shoe is the part of the shoe which surrounds your foot. There are many materials which can be used to construct an upper. These include leather, mesh, synthetic or suede. The type of upper you choose will largely depend on the activities you want to use the shoes for. For example, mesh is lighter and more breathable which makes it better for sport and activities when your feet get hot. However, leather is more durable and supportive which makes them better for lateral movement sports and long days at work.
- Toe box – this is the part of the shoes that specifically encloses the front of the foot and the toes. This is especially important if your foot is particularly narrow or wide as it will prevent excess slipping or rubbing on the front of the foot.
- Tongue and laces – these parts are commonly left out of many shoes, however if you are having trouble with your feet or looking for shoes for use during high impact activity these are key elements. They allow you to adjust the shoe specifically for your foot shape and create an additional level of support. Laces should never be so tight that they choke your foot, neither should they be loose enough to allow your foot to slip in and out without untying them. Shoelaces should also be re-tied 2-3 times per day as your foot swells during your daily activities and fluctuations with the weather.
- Heel – this is found around the back of the shoe and should fit snug around the back of your foot while you’re wearing the shoe. It is important for this to be firmly structured and should not collapse when a downwards pressure is placed on this area of the shoe. If not fitted correctly, this part of the shoe may slip and can cause blisters around the back of your foot.
- This is the removable liner inside the shoe that adds to the cushioning of the shoe. If you have a high instep or have been prescribed orthotics, this can be removed to add depth to the shoe. It does however retain foot odour, so if you notice your shoes beginning to develop a bad smell you can take these out to clean them.
- Midsole – this is the main part of the shoe that brands inject their major cushioning and support technologies. Shoes are categorised into 3 main categories: support, guidance and neutral. Shoes in the support category are distinguished by increased height on the medial side (inside of the foot), designed to limit pronation (rolling in) of the foot during walking or running. This is usually achieved with a hard plastic creating a post on the medial side of the shoe and a softer material used on the lateral side (outside of the foot). Guidance shoes are still designed to limit the amount of pronation as you walk or run, however the support on the medial side of these shoes is created by a firmer cushioning material rather than a hard plastic. Finally, neutral shoes are designed as their name would suggest, neutrally. These shoes have an equal amount of support and cushion on both the medial and lateral side of the foot. This makes them perfect for putting an orthotic into and you will generally find them to be softer overall.
- Outsole – the outsole can be found on the bottom of the shoe. It’s important for the different types of activities you will be completing in the shoes. For example, the outsole on a football boot is vastly different to the outsole found on a basketball shoe. They serve different purposes and therefore, the outsole is constructed differently. The main material used to form the outsole of a shoe is rubber, however, there are 2 different types of rubber which can be used, blown and carbon rubber. Blown rubber is softer and is used on running shoes where greater shock absorption is required. In comparison carbon rubber is harder and is used for shoes that are designed with longer durability or need to be non-slip.
How can my Physiotherapist help me with my footwear choices?
If you are getting foot pain whilst at work or during exercise you should speak to your Physiotherapist about whether your footwear is affecting your feet.
Your Physiotherapist is then able to complete a thorough assessment of your foot biomechanics and what kind of support (if any) your foot requires. In some circumstances they may recommend an orthotic or an innersole for your shoes to make them better suited to your foot.
The main things they will look for are:
- Pronation (rolling in)
- Supination (rolling out)
- Wide vs Narrow forefoot
- Height of your instep
- Stability of your ankle
- Calluses on the bottom of your foot
If you or a family member would like to learn more about footwear choices suitable for your feet, the physiotherapists at Back In Motion Como would love to help!
Phone Number: 9313 3414