How Appropriate Are Your Shoes?

The Client’s Perspective

A recipe for ingrown nails in men
A recipe for ingrown nails in men.

The chronicles with clients continue. A male client who previously complained about an “ugly bunion” was back for a pedicure and saw me. He started moaning about the pain he recently started experiencing and the fact that I had “goat mouth” for suggesting in the past that the appearance would not only become worse, but that possibly it would start paining. I went through my usual quizzing: about the style of shoes he wears; already knowing his profession and length of hours on his feet, whether he was wearing the device he previously purchased. In true Trini style, he responded indicating “that thing not working”, to which I investigated the usage and he admitted the infrequence, admitting that it did improve the pain levels with consistent use. Regarding his shoes, he proclaimed that “I must look stylish you know”, to which I concluded “well you choose, it’s style and fashion, or pain and a worse bunion and maybe an expensive surgery down the line”. We both laughed, and the message was yet again sent, for the individual to make his decision regarding his health and well being.

The Consequences of Your Poor Choices

Ingrown toenail
Ingrown toenail

No one likes to admit they’re wrong but, in some cases, making a wrong decision can be a relief. That means you do have some power over your foot pain and control over your situation! Since, “while many foot issues  have a large genetic component, the type of shoes we wear can certainly adversely affect our feet”. Wearing  tight and inappropriately shaped shoes often increase the incidence and severity of symptoms for deformities such as bunions, hammertoes, corns, overlapping toes and neuromas. They may also lead to problems with the nails growing in. Ingrowns are increasingly common, irritating, and potentially quite painful.

As online shopping grows in popularity, there is a greater temptation to purchase, keep, and wear shoes that look fashionable, but may not fit properly. As a result, many adults are wearing shoes that are not appropriate for their foot shape and size. Women especially are more likely to purchase a shoe that is too small, putting them at risk for corns, bunions, and other deformities that may require surgery to correct. However, as in the case of the male identified above, we are finding that the males are following closely behind in their bid to be fashion forward. Not at all focusing on the big picture, or rather, choosing to ignore it.

Inappropriate women shoes for work
Inappropriate women shoes for work.

 Shoe Selection Tips

 Maybe your shoes are too tight? Although in some instances, shoes can be stretched a bit, it’s better to buy a wider pair, or go up a half-size, and to try on shoes in the afternoon when your feet tend to be more swollen. Toes should be able to wiggle freely, and one thumb’s width should fit between the top of the biggest toe, and the end of the shoe. Women can find comfier heels by choosing a heel no greater than two to two and a half inches in height, thicker heels, or shoes with rounded or square, rather than pointed toe boxes. Men also need to stay away from the pointed toe boxes. Some more tips:

-When trying on a new shoe, make sure that your toes do not feel pinched or cramped, and that none of your toes are pushed over another toe.
-Do not buy shoes that do not fit. There is no such thing as a “break-in period”. With time, a foot may push or stretch a shoe to fit. But this can cause foot pain and damage.
-Evaluate the shoe for its overall construction. The shoe should bend in the toe box, not the shank (arch). A good stable shank will provide you with more support. You should not be able to easily squeeze the heel counter in on a new pair of shoes. Is the heel counter shallow, or does it sit higher on the heel providing more stability for your foot? What is the shape of the toe box?
-Determine if the toe box is appropriate for your foot. It is not just the shape of the toe box but also the depth. A deeper toe box will have more room to accommodate a bunion, hammertoes, and a wide forefoot. A square toe box is the most desirable shape. If you are unable to get a square toe box, a round one is a better choice than a pointed shape.
-Shoes that lace, buckle, Velcro, or have some type of strapping mechanism will provide more support to your arch, although it is rarely a stylish looking shoe.
-A shoe that has a removable insole is ideal so that you can add an orthotic or more cushioned insole if needed.
-Shoes that do not have the tongue attached to its upper, will provide a better fit. It is difficult to add an extra insole or orthotic to a shoe with the attached tongue.

Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

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