Footwear Considerations

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There are multiple categories of shoes that effect heel pain on a daily basis. While we don’t normally run in dress/work shoes a lot of us wear them all day and they tend to have a significant impact on heel pain and although a lot of shoes look the same, their internal make up and structure differs greatly. Commonly just a change in footwear improves if not almost resolves acute heel pain and at CPHI we analyse, advise and issue a footwear prescription for every single patient as part of our first line of treatment. We also have excellent working relationships with shoe retailers which ensure proper fit, correct prescription and also give CHPI patients discounted purchases!

There are a lot of different brands, categories and types of shoes on the market so which one(s) are right for you? A few tips regarding shoes and their features:

Running shoes: Is it best to run in minimalistic shoes, cushioned shoes, neutral shoes, trial shoes, supportive shoes, motion control shoes or maximalistic shoes? A lot of footwear factors can cause or influence heel pain including amount of medial support, support/cushioning ratio, heel pitch on the shoe, bodyweight, distance you are running in the shoe, striking patterns of your feet just to name a few. The two most important things running shoes are: A) The correct shoe for your foot type and B) A high level of comfort (which seems obvious but isn’t always done!).

There are 100’s of running shoes at vastly different price points available which makes life for a runner very confusing. As a general rule, high arched feet are normally better suited to cushioned shoes and pronated feet are better suited to supportive shoes but a lot of the time runners choose shoes on brand rather than category. A detailed running assessment at CHPI will guide the podiatrist into prescribing the best shoe for your heel pain.

Work shoes/Dress shoes: What a diverse field this is! No doubt males find adequate dress shoes much easier than females but rest assured there are options to suit every person and their heel pain. Gone are the days of having the wear a big, bulky walking shoe instead of a heel as there are plenty of options that are both stylish and functional so they can treat your heel pain and look stylish (and fit orthotics if needed). High heels are regularly an influence on heel pain and there are strategies in reducing heel pain while still spending time wearing heels! Given the amount of time we all spend in work shoes, getting the correct option is crucial at both treating and preventing heel pain. Our podiatrists can talk you through a detailed footwear strategy that actually works for you and your preferences whether you are in corporate, teaching, nursing, office based work or if you just want to be in the right shoe for those nights out!

Walking shoes/Hiking boots: Walking shoes or hiking boots are great when used for the right activity and are fitted correctly to the foot. If the fit is a little off then pain, blistering and heel slippage are common compensations which can become very annoying! Hiking boots can come in high, mid and low cut in a variety of widths and quite importantly different weights making the correct decision even more important. Although it is generally fine to walk in a running shoe there are some excellent specific made walking shoes with high durability that suit keen walkers a little better than running.

Sport specific shoes: Ever tried playing court sports in a running shoe and just not quite feel right? Or felt a bit ‘clunky’ doing a gym work out in runners? At CHPI we have an in depth knowledge of sports specific shoes which are best for turf sports like hockey and preseason football, court sports like netball, volleyball and tennis and the vast range of gym and lifting shoes which are best utilised to get the best outcome. Features such as outsole traction, midsole density and heel pitch height are crucial as both heel pain and performance are greatly influenced by footwear and often it is just a small change needed to gain big benefits. It is all about knowing the best option for your sport and your foot type to avoid overloading your heel and spending time on the sidelines due in injury.

Football boots: Although there isn’t as much variety in football boots as there are in running shoes, some are better suited for certain foot types. Neutral and high arched feet are a little more flexible with options and more likely to tolerate lightweight options where as flatter, more pronated feet require more support. There is a variety of stiffness’s in the shank and multiple widths, different upper materials, alterations in midsole density and heel position which can influence heel pain dramatically, particularly in growing feet.

Having the correct boot is much more important than judging off brand or colour! It is also important to consider what can fit inside the boot (orthotic wise) and at CHPI we are experts at tailoring orthotics/in shoe padding to custom fit football boots.

Sandals/Thongs: As Australians, we all enjoy wearing thongs and sandals! Wearing thongs has been an age old tradition and we understand that it isn’t going anywhere in the near future which is why we embrace the concept of thongs and sandals but in a different way. At CHPI we have a range of supportive and orthotic based thongs which are remarkable at reducing heel pain which allows you to get around in the convenience of a thong without suffering from heel pain. These are perfect for around the house, down and the beach or just going for a walk with the dogs as they unload the stresses in your heel while you walk – also very good for athlete’s for injury prevention.