Louie Shou, D.P.M
The human foot is one of the most complicated parts of the body. It has 26 bones, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and tendons. These components work together to provide the body with support balance and mobility. The foot is the connection from your body to the ground and supports the weight of our body as we go through out daily and recreational activities. By the time Americans reach the age of 50 years, they will have logged 75,000 miles on their feet. That is three times around the planet! Thus, it is important to have the proper supportive shoes to help our feet absorb the shock and pressure as we go about our day.
Good, supportive shoe gear starts at an early age. It is important to get accurate measurements of foot length and width on a regular basis as children are constantly growing. Foot problems result mainly from injury, deformity, illness or hereditary factors but improper shoe gear can exacerbate pre-existing conditions. Some common foot problems in children include Sever’s disease, flat foot, in-toeing and out-toeing, bunions and bunionettes. Proper foot wear is important in the presence of these issues. Without the use of proper supportive shoes and/or inserts, these can cause pain due to tendinitis, stress fractures, blisters/sores, corns/calluses, and muscle fatigue. Routine replacement of shoes is crucial to maintain the protection and provide adequate support for the feet.
Good footwear offers many benefits as we enter adulthood. A good shoe will evenly distribute the weight throughout the foot to help balance the body during ambulation. It guards the feet from elemental damages such as water, germs, dust, and ice. Good shoes prevent injuries and falls and decrease the friction produced between the ground and the foot. Certain activities and environments require the use of good, protective footwear. For example, working with heavy items or in construction, steel-toed boots are important to protect the feet from traumatic injury. Construction areas can be dangerous due to nails, staples, splinters and other items that could puncture the feet. Winter weather creates snow, slush and very cold surfaces that can cause frostbite. Diabetic patients have a special set of needs with their feet due to the development of neuropathy and poor blood circulation, which can lead to wounds, and infection.
Feet grow as we age and should be measured yearly. Feet swell up at the end of the day so it is beneficial to buy shoes late in the afternoon. Shoes should fit your feet and you should not have to make your feet fit the shoe. Avoid wearing shoes routinely that have heels higher than 2 inches. The higher the heel, the more pressure will be dispersed throughout the ball of your foot, which is not designed to handle that type of pressure. This can result in stress fractures, hammertoes, bunions, and neuromas.
Our feet are the foundation of our bodies and are the connection between our body and the surface we are walking on. It is vital to wear a good supportive shoe during normal every day activities and exercise to prevent foot and ankle injuries as well as altered mechanics that affect the knee, hips, and back. If you suffer from any problems in your foot and ankle, see a podiatrist to assess your feet. Understanding the condition and structure of your feet will help you make the right decisions regarding your foot wear.