Our feet are capable of pretty amazing feats. The average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day which adds up to approximately 115,000 miles in an average lifetime! And when running, your feet absorb the force of three or four times your normal body weight.
This is especially impressive considering the foot is an intricate structure containing 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles and tendons. With all these forces going through such delicate structures, most people will experience some type of foot pain in their life.
One of the simplest ways to prevent and treat common foot issues is to make sure the shoes we wear adequately support our feet. The most common foot concerns we see from poor shoe gear include:
- plantar fasciitis or heel pain
- forefoot pain or Morton’s neuroma
- Achilles tendinitis
- flatfoot pain from collapsed arches
Statistically speaking, women have about four times as many foot problems as men. High heels, flats, and narrow toed boots all add up to problems over time. Flimsy shoes, flip flops, and barefoot walking put too much stress on the delicate foot structures, making heel pain and forefoot pain all too common.
So, how do you know if your shoes are supportive?
Most running shoes such as ASICS, Brooks or New Balance will provide adequate support. You want to make sure that the middle of the shoe (the portion that supports your arch) does not twist or bend easily. The mid-arch stiffness will prevent abnormal rotational forces in the foot. Cushioning is also crucial for shock absorption and an adequately cushioned sole will help to prevent heel pain and forefoot pain issues.
A good rule of thumb is to spend 75 percent of the time in good stable shoe gear, especially with any athletic activity.
In addition to a good stable shoe, adding arch support will also help to prevent foot fatigue and allow for proper foot alignment and function. Every foot is different and it is important that insoles properly fit your feet. Most podiatrists can take a mold or cast of the foot in its corrected position and create a custom support that will help treat and prevent most foot issues.
Your feet, paired with a custom arch support and proper athletic shoe, create the foundation for the rest of your body. This combination will allow you to continue to put miles on those feet without those pesky foot ailments. As they say, if the shoe fits…
Dr. Bean is a podiatrist with West Coast Foot and Ankle Center in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 565.5545. He is also a member of Desert Doctors. For more information visit www.DesertDoctors.org.