Footwear - How Important Is It Really? Part TwoFollowing on from Part One “Does the recommendation to wear good, supportive footwear apply to me?”, here is everything you need to know about what good and supportive footwear really is!
The first thing to consider is: It’s not always about brands.All podiatrists may have personal favourite brands of footwear that they like to recommend to their clients. Ours include Asics, New Balance, Brooks and Ziera shoes. For us, this recommendation is based on the fact that the shoes they produce generally have good and solid features that help support and stabilise your foot in the shoe. The truth of the matter is, however, that great footwear brands can bring out not very supportive shoes from a podiatric perspective, and that some cheaper or not well known footwear brands do have the potential to bring out good, supportive shoes. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re looking for as opposed to what brand you’re looking for.
What makes a good, supportive shoe?
- A firm heel counter - push in with your thumb at the back of the shoe. Does it flex in or is it firm and stable? The shoe should be very stable at the heel and ankle region as stability here will help control the movement through the foot, reducing the foot from rolling excessing in or out.
- Strength through the middle of the shoe so you’re unable to bend it in on itself - hold the shoe by the toe end and bend it while holding the shoe in the heel region. The shoe should bend in the region of the ball of your feet but not in the middle of the shoe. The middle of the shoe should have support and strength.
- Not being able to wring the shoe like a cloth - You want to feel resistance to wringing the shoe and not be able to do it as easily as a wet cloth. The shank of the shoe should have strength and support so it can hold, control and stabilise your foot as opposed to letting it go and move everywhere it wants.
- What is beneath the shoe liner? Often, poorly made shoes will have cardboard-like material beneath the shoe liner which will be quick to break down and will retain moisture. Make sure to examine inside your shoe and its materials to make sure that your shoe will last and that the materials are comfortable and of a good quality that will last.
- Toe box space - the space at the toes should be deep and wide enough to not be rubbing on the sides or top of the toes and facilitate the natural spread of your toes.
- Fastening system - shoes with shoelaces or velcro (or a buckling system) help to ensure the best fit and stability for your foot inside the shoe and thereby help control and stabilise the movements within the shoe.
- Good shoe length - first, identify your longest toe - you’ll be surprised at the amount of people for which this is their second toe and not their first great toe. Ensure the shoe length is a thumbs width longer than your identified longest toe. This helps achieve the best fit and means that if the foot does creep forward in the shoe that it won’t rub against the end of the shoe and cause any blistering, callous or pain.