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How to pick the best shoe for your health

If you suffer from foot pain, you can relate to the popular adage, “When your feet hurt, everything hurts.” It’s hard to be comfortable when the foundation of much of your movement is aching.

Our footwear plays the lead role in affecting foot function and helping us avoid pain. Shoes help support overall foot health, reduce pain and help prevent injuring during heavy activity, so it’s important to invest in a good pair. Here are some general guidelines for selecting the right shoe.  

  • Seek out an established business where staff will take time to fit your feet well, including measuring your foot to determine appropriate sizing.
  • If you are somewhat over weight or have flexible flat feet, opt for a heavier, more substantial shoe or boot to offer the greatest support. You may want to consider an over-the-counter arch support or a custom orthotic.
  • If you have a more rigid, flat foot or a high-arched foot, you will need a more cushioned, flexible shoe. 
  • Always wear some kind of shoe when you're on your feet long periods, particularly on a hard surface.
  • Choose the appropriate shoe for the appropriate task – athletic shoe for physical activities; low, thick, heavy-soled shoe for lifting and warehouse work, etc. Ladies, remove heels when walking lengthy distance from work to the parking lot, especially during inclement weather.  

When the shoe is not the answer

Sometimes a shoe does not resolve the pain, either because the individual is still not wearing the appropriate pair or because there is an underlying structural problem with the foot.

Many of my patients come to me after spending thousands of dollars on various inserts, arch supports and special shoes but still haven’t been able to resolve their pain because they don’t know what their problem is and therefore are not sure what to look for or to buy. Had they sought out the advice of a podiatrist first, it may ultimately cost them much less. 

A podiatrist can rule out health concerns and give you specific guidance or what shoe, orthotic and/or exercises will help you live comfortably.

Remember, your feet are your physical foundation and it’s important to keep them comfortable, protected and up to the task of carrying the load.

If you have foot problems that aren’t relieved by wearing comfortable shoes, see a podiatrist.

About Miki Matsuda DPM

Miki Matsuda, DPM, is a podiatrist with Ascension Medical Group in Wichita, Kansas.