A physio's guide to finding the right footwear this summer to prevent sore feet, knee and ankle painJun 08, 2023
I always think one of the best parts of summer is being able to walk barefoot on the beach. There is something about the feeling of warm sand between your toes, that truly makes me feel like Summer has arrived. This got me thinking – why do we love the feeling of walking barefoot? Is it simply because it reminds us of warm, bright summer evenings or is there more to it? Do we love the feeling because it allows us to use our feet how we were intended to use them? It then struck me just how important our footwear is to us. You always know when you’ve worn the wrong shoes because your feet (and the rest of you!) really start to ache. So, if you're feeling ready for the summer and all the wonderful activities it brings, how do you make sure your feet are ready too, so that you don't end up with sore feet or worse?
If the shoe fits...
Firstly – we know high heels are FAR from ideal for our feet. Walking with most our weight that far forward, in shoes that don’t bend, and twist is a recipe for disaster! Let’s investigate what does make a good shoe. When you are next shoe shopping try to do the following:
- Bend the shoes in half – can the front half bend back to the back half? How flexible/rigid is the sole?
- Twist the shoes to check if the back of the shoe can go into the opposite direction to the front of the shoe, and vice versa.
A good pair of comfortable shoes SHOULD be able to move as outlined in the two points above. An uncomfortable shoe won’t. This is a great little test to do when looking for new shoes, or to some pairs you have at home that you aren’t sure about. The reason for this is that your feet are BUILT to move – otherwise there would be no need for the 26 bones and 33 joint in our feet. Impressive right? The above joints and bones allow our feet to go through many movements, the two main ones being:
- Fanning: the foot fans, flattens and lengthens out
- Fold: the foot folds, shortens and recoils under
When walking, fanning occurs when you land on your heel and bring your weight fully onto your leg. Folding occurs when your weight moves towards the front of your foot, and you push off/propel. Your shoes should accommodate NOT HINDER these movements. This is why stiff shoes can cause our feet to feel so stiff – the stop us using them!
What's the problem with wearing rigid shoes?
Wearing rigid shoes long term can cause so many issues some of which can include plantar fasciitis, ankle pain, knee pain and hip pain. In fact – we have even seen some cases of back pain when feet don’t move in an optimal way.
That is not to say stop wearing your beautiful fancy shoes – just remember that those are not the best shoes to wear for prolonged periods of time because they will impact your foot’s natural ability to fan and fold. If your feet don’t move – our body finds other ways to move, which leads to overloading other joints.
Do you need to go out and buy barefoot shoes? Absolutely not. Do you need to put your shoes through a few tests before you decide to buy them and wear them on all your lovely long walks? Yes, definitely.
It's always worth seeking professional help if you're experiencing ankle, knee or any other pain, especially if it's preventing you from doing what you love. Getting good hands-on physio that finds the CAUSE of your problem and gives you long-term solutions to fixing it, means you can get rid of pain for good. The sooner you seek help the better, as it can help prevent you losing your mobility and fitness.
"If it wasn't for the HealthHub I'd probably be walking with sticks by now. I can now live a normal, active life. It has changed everything for me." - Nola (listen to the full story here)
If you're worried about niggles, aches, and pains getting in the way of your summer activities, give us a call on 01548 852 355, or contact [email protected] to find out more about how we can help you get rid of pain for good. Or you can find all of our services here.
Now go out and enjoy the rest of the warm sunny days we have, whether you do it barefoot on the beach, strolling through towns, or hiking costal paths!
and the HealthHub Team
P.S. If you're struggling with knee or ankle pain you can click here to download our FREE guide on getting rid of knee pain for good. It's packed full of our best tips on preventing pain both now, and long-term. There's absolutely no reason to be suffering from knee/ankle pain, so find out what can be done and get back to doing what you love.
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