Pain Relief For Arthritis Happy Valley & Sandy, OR

Footwear: When The Other Shoe Drops (Part I)

1Footwear Footwear: When The Other Shoe Drops (Part I)The Least You Need To Know:

  1. It’s not as simple as the advertising says it is. It has become very cool to be on the cutting edge of the “right” footwear or even no footwear but it really hasn’t changed performance or injury rates.
  2. There is no one correct shoe for every activity, every person, or even every day. The demands on your feet from looking sharp on your wedding day, running a 5K, and squatting 300 lbs. are all very different and that’s OK, that’s why there are so many kinds of shoes.
  3. Pronation is normal and many factors must be considered when deciding how much is OK. Controlling pronation isn’t always necessary or even a good idea.
  4. Shoes are a tool (except on your wedding day, when they are pure fashion!). There are no bonus points for building a house without using a hammer, why would there be points for wearing the wrong shoe for the job?

The Million Dollar Question:

What shoe should I wear?

Honestly, I hesitate to even start writing this as it could be a book all on its own. I’ll try to keep it reasonable. Most accounts put the first “shoe” being worn something like 30,000-40,000 years ago and despite not having gotten a good look at them myself it’s safe to say they were not Air Jordan’s. Why would ancient people wear shoes? For the same’ reason you do, to protect their feet, reduce injury rates, and because an article in Popular Caveman told them they should.

Choosing a shoe can be difficult and daunting. In the sub-category of “athletic shoes” alone, Wikipedia tells us that there are: racing flats, track shoes, skate shoes, climbing shoes, approach shoes, wrestling shoes, cleats, football boots, dance shoes, bowling shoes, golf shoes, and hiking shoes. If we look at shoes as a tool it makes it a lot less confusing to figure out what type of shoe we should be wearing. The broad strokes are easy, if I’m bowling I should wear bowling shoes. Beyond the first division it really gets murky fast, especially in the world of running shoes, and to a certain extent in your everyday shoes since they are likely some type of walking shoe.

Dress code aside, “if the shoe fits, wear it.” It’s not that simple though. Foot and ankle pain, problems up the leg and into the back can be impacted by our shoe choices, even if the shoe fits. What we really mean by “if the shoe fits” means that it agrees with your structure (or at least doesn’t disagree) and helps minimize any mechanical or motion problems that you might have. It gets more tricky when we start adding that long term use of shoes can actually change your structure and can immediately impact your movements, with both of these potentially leading to long term problems or solutions to those problems. Despite what Christopher McDougall (author of Born To Run) may have said, running around barefoot is not a cure all. But, he did catapult us out of a rut in the running shoe world. People are more aware now that shoes impact how we move. Now we just need to make good decisions.

1Footwear1 Footwear: When The Other Shoe Drops (Part I)

Binding of women’s feet in china irreversibly changed their shape and have large consequences on how they work today.

1Footwear2 Footwear: When The Other Shoe Drops (Part I)

It’s not just the Chinese that have a history of binding feet.

1Footwear3 Footwear: When The Other Shoe Drops (Part I)

Climbing shoes can have similar effects on feet. Consider what the shoes do for you before you agree to wear them

9flatBut I Have Flat Feet … But I Have High Arches

Congratulations? The structure of your feet is fairly important when deciding on a shoe, but often it is less important than how you use it and what you do with it (deep sea diving or ballroom dancing). The real problem with talking about the shape of your feet is that most people know enough to get themselves in trouble, much like ill fated trips to Home Depot.

Flat feet are commonly called “pronated” and that is mostly true, but it completely lacks appreciation of the dynamic nature of what the foot does (adsorb force, adjust to uneven surfaces, fine tune your legs response in stance). If you have flat feet when you are standing, but high arches (supinated) when your foot is off the ground (swing) it means your foot is doing a lot of mechanical work to travel between the two every time you step. In other words you “over pronate.” One of the problems with this is that the pronated (flat) position is relatively unstable compared to the supinated (arched) position- so over pronating leaves the rest of the leg to fend for itself- ie puts you at risk of injury. Some people have flat/pronated feet when standing and with swing= and that may just be the anatomy. Unfortunately, to really describe what is going on you have to assess how quickly the foot travels between the two positions (loaded and unloaded), what tries to slow it down (muscles, shoes, connective tissue) and what you are trying to do with your feet.

A shoe can help in two main ways, adding structure under your arch, slowing pronation and allowing the natural mechanics of your foot to do their job or to add padding to the foot so that they adsorb the shock of landing. The best strategy is actually the topic of hot debate because it is possible to strengthen the foot and alter the mechanics of the leg to control this action regardless of the shoes that you wear. The question then becomes if you wear shoes that help control or offset the pronation of your foot, are they allowing you to walk/run with poor mechanics that will lead to future problems? Maybe. If you do not provide support and fail to control that motion with the rest of your leg will you end up injured? Maybe. Over pronation is not a position, it is a motion. More specifically over pronation is the amount of motion that the foot goes through when you land on it.

Q: “If my foot pronates will I have problems in the rest of the leg?”

A: Not necessarily. The position of the foot (pronation) and how it moves is only one part of how your entire leg moves. The foot and ankle alone are not a good predictor of injury. Studies have shown that people who over pronate have similar injury rates to those who do not. In other words, only correcting the position of the foot and ankle will not necessarily correct the position of the leg (Reischl et. al. 1999). Injuries appear to be more accurately predicted by what the entire leg does and not what the ankle alone does.

Running Shoes Keep Getting Better, Right?

Nope, the rate of running injuries has remained fairly flat. There are some details to consider: change in the running population, changes in definition etc..

But over pronation is linked to injuries, right? Nope, again.

So I shouldn’t care about my pronation and I can wear any shoe that I want? I hate do be like this but, no. Shoes help set the stage for how the foot works. The foot effects mechanics of the entire leg but cannot independently change the entire action of the leg. That being said, your shoes should work for you and not against you. Shoes won’t fix your problems all on their own but they can help youimprove your mechanics, resolve pain and improve function when viewed as a tool.

How should you use your shoes? We’ll be right back with part two with a few easy tips on how to use your shoes for the powers of good! Have specific question? Send us a Facebook message or email and we will try to include your answer.

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