Stepping into Spring (with your best shoes on!)

24 March 2022

Osteopaths care about all of you, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.

It’s almost time to pop those trusty winter boots away and step into lighter footwear - thank goodness!

It can be really tempting to go for less supportive footwear, however this is often not the best environment for our feet – especially if feet are sore/arthritic/suffering from an injury.

I always look at my patient’s shoes – it tells me so much about them biomechanically.

I can get an insight into how they walk, weight-bear and if they weight-bear equally through their legs. You can tell a lot from looking at your shoes and checking if one shoe is more worn than the other, as well as if the shoe is right for them, for example is the shoe fitting correctly.

All feet are different, some people have high arches, some people have flat arches, some people have narrow feet, others wide.

What all feet have in common is that they are an incredible biomechanical structure; they have 26 bones, lots of ligaments, and they take the weight of the body all day as well as absorbing ground force as we move.

So, with this in mind it is only fair that we give our feet a good environment to work in.

I remember a long time ago one of my elderly patients said to me that he was advised by his father (so we are going back some here) “never skimp on footwear or mattresses, because if you’re not in one, you’re on the other”.

Wearing the ‘wrong shoe’ or unsupportive shoes can lead to a host of problems throughout the body. Ranging from foot pain and knee pain, to lower back pain, muscles in the legs getting tight and sore, the consequences can be far reaching.

My Top Tips with Footwear

Active Footwear

There is an absolute overwhelming amount of choice/information about what is ‘right’ for your feet.

When it comes to trainers, I recommend getting them properly fitted in a sports shop, where your gait (how you walk and weight-bear) can be properly assessed.

Wearing the wrong trainers on your feet for sports can predispose you to injury.

Those aesthetically pleasing kicks may not be feet-pleasing – so choose what is right for your feet not your eyes!

Office Footwear

This is a big one. High heels - especially a stiletto heel - are just hideous for feet.

Our weight is thrown forwards causing the muscles at the back of the body to shorten and become tight. This in turn can cause lower back pain as the joints can sit closer together.

Even sitting in heels causes the calf muscles to shorten as well as the Achilles tendon, which can lead to a lot of ankle dysfunction. Likewise for the super tiny very flat shoes – they have no sole so their ability to help shock absorb is zero.

Out and About Footwear

Trainers or a trainer type shoe is best.

As the weather warms it is tempting to reach for those flip flops, but walking in flip flops for a period of time is really hard work for your body.

Your toes have to slightly scrunch to keep the flip flop in place, and flip flops have no shock absorption at all, so all the ground forces go straight into the ankle and knee.

This can be a real problem especially in the older foot, as well as the younger foot, as well as predisposing to plantar fasciitis (pain in the sole of the foot).

Please choose your summer footwear wisely, and if you want to ask any further questions on what footwear is best for you, or more information on how Osteopathy can help you, please get in touch.

Emily Coombes
Registered Osteopath (7416) and Principal Osteopath at Kibworth Osteopaths & Pilates

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