“But I wear good shoes” is a common phrase I hear from my patients. Daily. What exactly are these good shoes?
Day after day I continue to hear patients voice their concerns to me that they cannot reduce their foot pain despite the fact that they’re buying “good shoes”. Is there really such a thing as a good shoe? Is spending $250-$300 on a popular brand-name men’s dress shoe, going to solve your problems of foot pain?
Even if you have realized its the shoes that’s causing your problem, is it really possible to go against society’s rules of what we wear to work and in public?
Many times these patients who present with chronic heel pain and have tried orthotics, physical therapy, stretching, night splints, NSAIDs, and cortisone injections yet have lived with the pain for years. Why? I feel the explanation is rather simple. They are creating the problem. Well, indirectly because society has created it for them. These patients are forced to wear shoes. Shoes that have been created to satisfy socioeconomic status and not to fit a human foot. Consider men’s dress shoes. They are stiff, narrow in the forefoot, unnaturally angles with a 3/4 inch solid block heel and are heavy. I don’t think there is a male out there who loves wearing them. I use to tell people if you can’t run a marathon in the shoes your wearing, you probably shouldn’t be wearing them. Dress shoes can be worn for 8 hours a day or more translating into a 40 hour week of placing your foot into this unnatural device compared to running a marathon for 4 hours in a running shoe. 40 hours weekly!!! Not many people run a marathon weekly with daily mileage combined. The problem lies in what their wearing all week long at work. What should these patients wear?
An even more complex patient is the mechanic or machine operator who is required by regulations to wear steel toe boots. Often these boots are very stiff and rigid which again cause the foot to become compromised with respect to mobility and range of motion leading to a weakened (atrophied) foot from lack of use of the intrinsic foot muscles. Again, very challenging to explain to these people that it’s their occupation related shoe gear creating the issue.
Of course we can’t leave the female dress shoes out of this discussion. In a previous post I mentioned that its common place to see women at weddings taking off those 4 inch heels so they can dance. “I have to get these things off my feet…..” becomes a popular phrase heard after a formal event.
So who is to blame? The shoe? The patient? Society? I have no idea, I just know that our foot was masterfully engineered to function the way it was designed. As soon as we place the foot in an unnatural position in the manner that most shoes do, problems begin to occur. I’m not saying our society should be running around barefoot, but I think we could do a lot better in choosing what we put on our feet.
To answer the popular question of, “What’s the best shoe I can get for my feet?”. It’s one that allows your foot to function the way it was intended to.