It’s summertime, a time when we take advantage of the beautiful, hot, sunny weather to put our best fashionable foot forward. Dr. Karpati, a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, reports that it is during the summer months that podiatrists see an increase in foot pathology, including heel and arch pain. The culprits? Unfortunately, it’s your cute pair of flats, the sexy peep toe stilettos you’ve been dying to wear or those famous flip flops we often see men and women sporting on the beach. Although these types of shoes may look fabulous and fit properly with your wardrobe, they can have a major impact on your feet due to their poor arch support. This lack of support can lead to poor posture, since the body is trying to compensate for the unnatural position the feet have been put into. As Physical Therapists, the most common ailment we see due to poor posture is neck and back pain. Additionally, these types of shoes can increase the risk of injuries due to falls, such as ankle sprains, fractured wrists and dislocated shoulders. Some of the foot pathologies treated by Physical Therapists, which are caused by, but not limited to, ill-fitting footwear include plantar fasciitis, hallux valgus (a.k.a. bunions) and Morton’s neuroma. The latter occurs when a nerve is squeezed between two bones, which are rubbing together. The symptoms include swelling, tenderness and pain. In more severe cases, numbness, tingling and a burning sensation in the toes can arise.
Interested in decreasing the risk of developing foot pain? Here are a few tips, which may help you achieve that goal. First, when buying shoes, make sure there is enough room at the tip for your toes to move comfortably. Second, try downgrading your 4-inch heel to a kitten heel – no more than 2cm for daily wear. Third, if you must wear a pair of ill-fitting shoes, avoid prolonged standing or walking. And last but not least, there’s no need to give up your favorite pair of shoes just yet, but listen to your body. Don’t ignore the aches and pains that may arise during or after the wear of a certain pair of shoes. If you are currently a foot pain sufferer, consulting a Physical Therapist could help you by recommending some stretching and strengthening exercises for your feet in order to get them back into “tip toe” shape!