Painless, problem-free free walking and running is achieved by the systematic and coordinated activity of the foot and lower limb muscles and bones working in harmony. The alignment and function of the bones of the foot play a vital role in turn, in aligning the joints of the ankle and lower leg, and they also influence the positioning and function of the knees, hips, back, arms and neck throughout the gait cycle. How the foot is held within shoes and the footwear design itself can have a significant effect on the biomechanics of the lower limb and upper body, whether this is sports shoes, flip flops or high heels.
Footwear and/or orthotics play a key role in modifying the position of the foot and limb and provide functional control through realigning and stabilizing the limb during when walking, standing or running.
Adaptations to the heel and sole of certain shoes may occasionally be advised by your Podiatrist, as it can enhance and complement orthotic therapy, reduce excessive and abnormal wear of the footwear, reduce painful symptoms and improve foot function and mobility.
There are a vast range of footwear options in relation to style, purpose and function – a look around the malls of Dubai alone show an endless supply of shoes. However, the range can be confusing, and as Podiatrists, we are trained to advise on the suitability of footwear for different purposes and for each patient’s foot type. In addition to generic factors in footwear design and fit that make a good shoe, there are factors that are unique to each individual.
In particular, when a foot’s dimensions will not fit into retail footwear because of shape, posture or functioning, specialist therapeutic footwear may be required. This footwear may be off-the-shelf specialist footwear that is often described as ‘stock’ footwear. However, if the foot problem is greater than can be accommodated in ‘stock footwear’, or if the biomechanical needs are more complex, then the footwear may have to be ‘bespoke’ and made on a ‘last’ (a type of solid foot model) manufactured for the individual patient
Retail footwear: ‘What makes a good shoe?’
There are now many shoe designs that are appropriate for foot health and affordable. Many foot problems benefit from a change in footwear style or to a style with different features. Some footwear can also be modified to an extent. In fact there are features of retail footwear that make it ideal for the high-risk foot but that are also useful for maintaining good foot health in any individual. (read more about shoe related foot problems here). These features are:
- stable, low heel (cushions heel strike and reduces risk of plantar fasciitisheel pain)
- padded topline to reduce irritation to the retro-calcaneal (heel) area and the infra-malleolar areas (bony prominence around either side of your ankle)
- no prominent internal seams (preventing irritation and blisters)
- roomy, rounded toe box (avoiding corns due to a pointed, cramped toe box)
- increased toe spring or rocker sole to reduce forefoot plantar pressures
- lace-up or Velcro fastening to hold the shoe to the foot, adjustable for different foot types.
One issue with shoes, is that due to the differences in the ‘lasts’ used for different footwear brands and even differences in international sizing, there is lack of standardization. Thus, you may be different sizes in different shops. Be sure to try shoes on in every shop you try. See more tips in our shoe buying guide and guide for buying teenagers’ shoes).
For advice on foot and leg health, and the best shoes for your foot type or sport as well as assessment for orthotics, contact Dubai Podiatry Centre on +971 4 3435390.