Sometimes people like to be thrifty, and who can blame them? It feels good to save money on groceries here, find a really good back to school sale there, however, there is one place where we really don’t want to skimp. A good rule of thumb is: if you have to spend extra money, it should go to anything that comes between you and the ground. This means dropping some decent dough on mattresses, tires, and especially shoes.

When it comes to choosing your next pair of shoes, there are quite a few things to consider.

Think how much of a beating our feet take on a daily basis! In addition to the weight our feet are bearing to begin with, consider the force we put on them whenever we’re walking. An average person takes about 4,000 to 6,000 steps a day, and even a sedentary person can still take about 1,000-3,000 steps per day. All of that pressure created by taking steps bears down on our foot bones, which sends shocks back up our bodies that can be felt in our knees, hips, and back. The best way to prevent this foot, knee, hip and back pain is to spend a little extra money on something good to put between you and the ground. That’s why we stress investing in good shoes.

Each person has a different foot pattern and arch. Some people are flat footed, others have high arches, and some have medium arches. Some people place their weight on one side of the foot or the other, or perhaps they land on the ball of their foot rather than the heel. Maybe they land completely flat! Everyone has their own unique way of walking, and shoe companies are happy to celebrate that difference! That’s why all major sports brands make and carry different types of sport-specific shoes for different types of people.

Understand why you’re buying your shoes. Is this for a specific sport? Do you need casual wear?

The easiest way to find out which shoe is right for you is to visit a specialty shoe store. Shoe stores that deal specifically in athletic shoes are a good start, such as Feet Fleet or a local athletic store (aofas.org). Typically, the staff will be trained to identify different strides, read wear patterns on your current shoes (so bring a well-used pair on your visit), and understand what kind of support you need depending on your step. If you’re looking for a certain sport shoe, then absolutely purchase a shoe that is specifically designed for that sport and stick to it. For example, if you were to tell an employee that you’re experiencing hip pain while running, they would be able to find a few running shoe types for you to test. The shoe will be specifically supported so that when your foot hits the ground, the shoe will better absorb the shock from hitting your hips, relieving that pain. Also, give the employees a chance to measure your foot. While adult feet do tend to stop growing, they do continue to spread. Some people can experience up to a two size increase because of the way their feet have matured!

Again, let a staff member at a shoe store know about any pain you’re experiencing so they can bring you appropriate footwear to adjust for that peculiarity you’re experiencing. Are you purchasing shoes for work or dress? Seek out a specialty shoe store that also trains their staff to identify foot support needs in their customers. They’ll often have quality brands that are specifically manufactured for orthopedic support while also looking stylish. Yes, we can now have both–the future is amazing! Consider these brands when looking for dress and casual shoes:

And there are plenty more once you begin looking!

When purchasing high heels, it’s especially important to buy quality shoes. Because high heels are created the way they are, the stress created between the foot and the leg bones can more readily lead to stress fractures. High heels also lead to higher rates of toenail deformities, sprains and strains, bunions and hammertoes, and causes heel pain in general. Preferably, avoid high heels where possible.

As always, if you’re experiencing pain in the foot, knee, hips, or back, schedule an appointment with the Finger Lakes Bone and Joint Center so we can understand what course of action is right for you. Proper foot care is an important step, but it’s always best to check with a doctor before starting out on your own workout regimen or abrupt change in footwear.

References:

“Footwear.” FootcareMD. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/how-to/footwear/Pages/default.aspx

Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations. Suffern Podiatry. https://suffernpodiatry.com/shoe-brand-recomendations/

“10,000 Steps a Day.” The Walking Site. http://www.thewalkingsite.com/10000steps.html

Elliot, Candice. “Quality vs. Cost.” Listen Money Matters. https://www.listenmoneymatters.com/quality-vs-cost/