When it comes to our shoes, we can all be guilty of prioritizing fashion over function. Whether it’s wearing those special heels for a big event or picking a pair of uncomfortable work shoes, over a sturdier more practical pair, simply due to convenience.
But did you know that wearing uncomfortable shoes can have serious consequences? According to the National Health Service, up to 1 in 3 people in the United Kingdom have foot problems, with conditions ranging from minor issues, like corns and calluses to more serious conditions like plantar fasciitis and foot ulcers. Yet many British people still wait one to three weeks before seeking treatment for a foot condition, with the most common reason being that people think the condition would go away by itself. Although, 8% of Brits admitted that they were too embarrassed to seek treatment.
Keira Moore, Podiatrist and owner of the York Foot Clinic, has worked in collaboration with Pavers to share her expert findings on foot health. Keira always recommends that you should see a health professional for any foot problems, she says, “We are health professionals, we want to help you and your feet. I guarantee that both you and your feet will feel so much better after treatment.”
Why is it Important to Choose Shoes that Fit?
Choosing to wear ill-fitting shoes, could potentially cause or exacerbate foot problems, causing pain and discomfort that may even lead to long term foot damage, something that none of us want! Therefore, it is crucial to choose shoes that not only look good, but also provide proper support and comfort for your feet. One noticeable problem with ill-fitting footwear is that if the toe box of your shoe is too narrow, or not deep enough, this may cause repetitive trauma which can lead to bruising and bleeding under the toenail. Kiera goes on to say, “Short term, this may cause you to temporarily lose the nail, long term, it can lead to permanent damage and a lifetime with a thickened nail.”
According to research undertaken by Pavers, the top 10 foot health conditions in the United Kingdom include:
- Blisters (18%)
- Dry skin (16%)
- Athlete's foot (12%)
- Corns and calluses (11%)
- Fungal nail infection (10%)
- Verrucae (10%)
- Ingrown toenail (10%)
- Bunions (8%)
- Plantar fasciitis (7%)
- Sweaty feet - Hyperhidrosis (6%)
Blisters, the most common foot health condition in the UK, are caused by a shearing force. This is most commonly seen when footwear does not correctly fit correctly. Kiera, who has seen more than her fair share of blisters, has had to remove giant blisters from patients’ heels, and helped to dress them regularly to avoid infection. She goes on to recount a particularly memorable case “Where a patient was left with no skin on the top of six of her toes, due to rubbing shoes which had formed ulcers”. Although many of us think that blisters are just part of the normal process of wearing in shoes, Kiera highlights that this isn’t the case. She leaves us with the solid advice that, “If you feel a blister forming, the shoe isn’t right for you!”
Here at Pavers, although we care deeply about all our customer’s foot health, we are not medical professionals. Therefore, if you are suffering from foot pain, it’s best to make an appointment with your local healthcare provider. Now, let’s explore some tips for finding the right shoes for different foot problems.
The Best Shoes for Painful Heels
If you suffer with pain in the heels of your feet, you’re not alone. Heel pain is a very common foot problem. It can be caused by a variety of factors, but the most common cause is plantar fasciitis. The planta fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs under the sole of the foot, acting like a natural shock absorber to the foot. Damage to the planta fascia can result in tiny microtears, which can then cause it to thicken and become even more painful over time.
If you have heel pain it is important that you choose shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning to relieve pressure on the heel. Consider wearing shoes with a low heel height, no higher than two inches, with a stable base. Shoes with a cushioned insole and arch support can also help relieve pressure on the heel, by distributing the pressure more evenly across the foot. You could also consider wearing shoes made from breathable materials to reduce excess moisture build up, which can increase the risk of developing nasty corns and blisters.
The Best Shoes for Gout
Gout is a less common, but no less serious, form of arthritis. It can cause sudden and severe pain, swelling, and redness in the joints, particularly in the big toe. If you have gout, look out for shoes that provide ample space and cushioning, to reduce pressure on the affected joint. When shopping for shoes, choose a pair with a wide and deep toe box, so it can accommodate your foot comfortable without squeezing or rubbing against the inflamed joint. Try and avoid shoes that are too tight or narrow, as they can exacerbate gout symptoms. Our ultra-wide Fly Flot range are perfect for those who have extra sensitive or swollen feet. Shoes with a low heel and good arch support are also useful in alleviating pressure on the big toe joint.
The Best Shoes for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is often referred to as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. Those who suffer from it will know that it can cause pain, stiffness and limited mobility in the affected joints, most commonly in knees, hips and ankles. If you have osteoarthritis, it’s important to choose shoes that provide good shock absorption and cushioning to reduce the impact on your joints when walking or standing. Look out for shoes with a soft and flexible sole that can absorb shock and distribute pressure evenly across your foot. You could also consider wearing flats or sneakers, as shoes with a low and wide heel can also help improve stability and reduce the risk of falls. Shoes with a supportive insole may help improve alignment and reduce the stress on your joints. You should try to avoid shoes with a high heel or narrow toe box, as they can increase pressure on the joints and exacerbate osteoarthritis symptoms.
Wearing properly supportive shoes can have other benefits as well. For example, shoes with proper shock absorption will help avoid cracked heels and fissures. Podiatrist Kiera has seen an influx of patients ahead of the warmer weather with thick, cracked or even bleeding heels, all of which can be avoided with supportive footwear.
Overall, choosing the right shoes can make all the difference in maintaining good foot health, preventing foot problems and keep you walking tall for longer. But whether you have foot problems or not, it’s still important to choose shoes that provide the necessary support, cushioning and protection for your feet.
Remember to measure your feet regularly and try shoes on in the afternoon or evening, as our feet tend to swell over the cause of the day. Don’t forget to replace your shoes regularly, as worn-out shoes can lead to foot problems and injuries. Along with proper footwear, taking care of your feet with good hygiene, regular exercise and proper stretching can improve foot health and prevent future foot problems.
We hope this article has shone a little light on how you can alleviate foot pain, but remember, if you have persistent foot pain, please consult a health care professional for a diagnosis and treatment plan.