Shoes are so important


Shoes are so important!

Whether it’s a marathon runner or weekend jog, so many of the damaged feet I see coming into my clinic have their root cause in the shoes we wear.  The last month has seen a steady presentation of amateur athletes limping towards my door with a frustrated story low grade injury, rapidly progressing to the kind of pain that lays you up on the couch for the foreseeable future. New Year saw many good intentions and running shoe purchases (in all their fashionably florescent splendour!), and for those of you who have survived the initial ‘habit making’ training, the idea being laid up with a foot injury is catastrophic!

So, some food for thought before you end up at my door…

Not all shoes are created equal.

Your feet are as individual as the rest of you, and getting the right shoe for your foot type is important. The internet is awash with bamboozling hyperlinks and personal testimony, and having someone assess your foot structure is almost essential back ground work.  And believe me, the sales assistant at your local shoe store may be just as confused by your propulsive pronation as you are.  In the grand scheme of things, a podiatry consult for some general advice will be the best money you’ve ever spent. See your podiatrist for footwear advice from the outset.

Just because you see a podiatrist, doesn’t mean you absolutely will end up with orthotics.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in orthotics. And considering the cost benefit ratio, there is a good chance orthotics will be discussed in your consult. But so will stretching, strengthening and injury prevention. And shoes!  There is a significant amount of Research and Development in the running shoes available today. In fact, I would suggest there is almost more science in a good trainer as there is in many medical devices available. Investing in good quality shoes may be all the rehabilitation you require. I promise I won’t disregard the importance of your footwear. And neither should you (see discussion above).

Besides, we do so much more than just orthotics…

We do exercise prescription. We do gait retraining. We do acupuncture and dry needling. We do shock wave therapy. We do nail surgery (for when you wore those too-tight trainers and ran a marathon). We do callus and corn debridement (shoes) and grind down traumatised thickened nails (again, shoes… seeing a pattern here?)

Replace your shoes regularly.

Keep an eye out for wear. Check you outsole – grip will commonly wear on the lateral heel (strike zone) and forefoot.  If heel wear becomes too significant, it can actually upset the balance of your strike pattern and lead to injury. Check your midsole – with use, compression lines will appear and the supportive features will become less stable. The entire shoe will be more flexible. This is not a good thing. Check your upper – holes in the upper mesh are common around the toes, and the entire upper will stretch and decrease the security around your foot. Check your heel liner – taking your shoes on and off a thousand times will damage the material inside the heel. Avoid blisters.

If your exercising in your shoe regularly, and your shoes are less comfortable it might be time for a new pair.

Or better off, buy two pair.

The recommendation is roughly 800kms. If you’re running 5 kms, three times a week that equates to a new pair every year. If you are clicking over the kilometres, it is best to have two pair and alternate their use – allowing time for compressed material to ‘rebound’ will mean both pairs last longer and save you in the long run.

And once you have the perfect shoe, take care of it!

  1. Untie your Laces – Forcing your foot into a tight heel cup distorts the counter and stretches the upper.
  2. Dry your shoes – remove the inner soles to air them, back them with newspaper if they do get damp.
  3. Waterproof your shoe – this will keep your upper clean and prevent small amounts of liquid and dirt from getting into the inner.

Think of your shoes like your car tyres – regularly check them to avoid a training catastrophe!