Foot and Ankle
High Blood Pressure
On-the-Job Foot Health
Rear Foot Surgery
Proper Footwear Can Reduce Foot
From ancient Egyptian times
down through the centuries, footwear has been designed to meet mankind's
real and perceived needs -- protection, support, comfort, sturdiness,
stylishness, and the rest.
Today, there is an almost
endless variety of styles and materials can pose a major dilemma when
it's time to buy a pair of shoes. The dilemma can be minimized, however,
if you concentrate on the health aspects of the modern shoe:
well-fitting, well-made, and used properly, it has an inherent capacity
to help reduce foot problems.
Feet bear the tremendous
pressures of daily living. An average day of walking brings a force
equal to several hundred tons to bear on the feet. They are subject to
more injury than any other part of the body, highlighting the need to
protect them with proper footwear.
Children, women, men, and
athletes all have different shoe requirements, and such requirements
will vary considerably across a wide range of activities.
Doctors of podiatric
medicine are health care professionals trained in the care of the foot
and ankle. They are fully qualified to recommend selection of the right
pair of shoes, or address other aspects of foot health, for all members
of the family.
When a child begins to walk,
shoes generally are not necessary, Allowing an infant to go barefooted
indoors, or to wear only a pair of socks, helps the foot grow normally
and develop its musculature and strength, as well as the grasping
ability of toes.
As children grow more
active, and their feet develop, the need for shoes becomes apparent. It
becomes necessary to change shoe sizes at a pace which frequently
surprises and even dismays parents, to allow room for growth.
Though fit is the most
important consideration, function is also pertinent. For youngsters who
have reached the stage of walking stability, footwear with crepe or
rubber soles helps cushion impact on growing feet better than the soles
of dressier shoes with thinner soles.
Women, inhabiting the work
force in greater numbers, inflict more punishment on their feet, in part
from improper footwear they feel obliged to wear at work, that can bring
about unnecessary foot problems.
Some of those problems
result from high-heeled shoes (generally defined as pumps with heels of
more than two inches). Doctors of podiatric medicine believe such heels
are orthopedically unsound, and attribute medical, postural, and safety
problems to their use.
To relieve the abusive
effects of high heels, women can limit the time they wear them,
alternating with good quality sneakers or flats for part of the day.
They can also vary heel
height. There are comfortable and attractive "walking" pumps
(also called "comfort" or "performance" pumps) for
work and social activities, that blend fashion considerations and
comfort, offering pumps with athletic shoe-derived construction,
reinforced heels, and wider toe room.
Activity has a bearing on
the considerations; wearing the right shoe for a particular activity is
probably as important a factor in the choice of shoes as any.
Perhaps the best shoe for
women, from an orthopedic viewpoint, is a walking shoe with laces (not a
slip-on), a Vibram-type composition sole, and a relatively wider heel
with a rigid and padded heel counter, no more than three-quarters of an
inch in height -- even though such a shoe may be scorned in fashion
The best shoes for men are
good quality oxford styles, shoes ordinarily associated with wing-tip or
cap designs. Also suitable are slip-ons, dressy loafers, and low, dress
Men as well as women
should buy shoes for work, leisure, and special activities, matching the
shoe to the activity.
Male (and female) office
workers should earmark three to five pairs of shoes for business hours
-- general oxfords and loafers for men; pumps and oxfords for women.
Cushioned-sole shoes that give good support are essential for those who
spend most of their working days on their feet.
There is no question
about the need for foot protection for those who work in heavy industry.
Safety shoes and boots -- those that are waterproof or water-resistant,
with insulated steel toe caps and soles of non-conducting materials --
help prevent injuries to the feet, and reduce the severity of injuries
that do occur.
Shoes for Athletics
Different sports activities
call for specific footwear to protect feet and ankles. Sports-specific
athletic shoes are a wise investment for serious athletes, though
perhaps a less critical consideration for the weekend or occasional
athlete; nevertheless, it's a good idea to use the correct shoe for each
sport. Probably a more important consideration is the condition of the
shoe -- don't wear any sports shoes (or any shoes) beyond their useful
Athletic footwear should
be fitted to hold the foot in the position that's most natural to the
For example, a running
shoe is built to accommodate the impact that concentrates on the
forefoot, while a tennis shoe is made to give relatively more support to
the ankles, and permit sudden stops and turns.
- Have your feet measured while you're standing.
- Always try on both shoes, and walk around the
- Always buy for the larger foot; feet are seldom
precisely the same size.
- Don't buy shoes that need a "break-in"
period -- shoes should be comfortable immediately.
- Don't rely on the size of your last pair of shoes.
Your feet do get larger, and lasts (shoemakers' sizing molds) also
- Shop for shoes later in the day; feet tend to swell
during the day, and it's best to be fitted when they are at their
- Be sure that shoes fit well -- front, back, and
sides -- to distribute weight. It sounds elementary, but be sure the
widest part of your foot corresponds to the widest part of the shoe.
- Select a shoe with a leather upper, stiff heel
counter, appropriate cushioning, and flexibility at the ball of the
- Try on shoes while you're wearing the same type of
socks or stockings you expect to wear with the shoes.
For longer service, keep shoes clean and in good
repair. Avoid excessive wear on heels and soles. Give your shoes a
chance to breathe by rotating their use. Never wear hand-me-down shoes
(this is especially important for children).
Seal of Acceptance
The American Podiatric Medical Association awards its
Seal of Acceptance to a wide variety of shoes (and shoe-related
products), which have been deemed to enhance a consistently applied
program of daily foot care and regular professional treatment.
The intent of such endorsements is to make a
significant contribution to the foot health and foot health education of