Footwear Recommendations for Foot Pain

Footwear Recommendations for Foot Pain

Written By:  Mark C. Brauweiler, PT, DPT, CSCS – Clinic Manager -Tipton Location

Plantar fasciitis (PF) is one of the most common causes of foot and heel pain.  It involves irritation—and sometimes inflammation (swelling)—of the thick band of tissue that runs from your heel to your big toe along the inside of your foot.1  Typically, the pain is worst in the mornings, after sitting for prolonged periods of time, and/or while walking barefoot.  Certain things can place you at risk of developing PF: overuse, tight calf muscles, poor footwear, poor strength of your foot muscles, and/or obesity.1,2

In addition to any medications your physician or podiatrist may prescribe, as well as any exercises from your physical therapist (PT) or physical therapist assistant (PTA), there are some simple steps to take to help relieve and prevent further PF-related pain.

General Recommendations:

  • You should buy a new pair of shoes every 500 miles3, every 6 months, or when you start to notice wearing or creasing: Whichever comes first!
  • Your shoe should have good arch support that does not cave in when you stand or walk.
  • Your shoe should be made of a sturdy material to provide adequate support throughout your foot and ankle. A quick, easy way to test and find out: The Fold Test.  Grab your shoe by the bottom, one hand at the toes and the other at the heel; try and fold the shoe up in half.  If it folds easily in half without much effort, it’s not providing you enough support.  If it creases near the toes first and doesn’t fold easily, it’s probably good to go!
  • Make sure your shoe fits! If you can’t get professionally measured, a good “rule of thumb” is that there should be a finger’s width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
  • Generally, flip-flops are discouraged…but if you simply can’t go without your flip-flops at the beach of on vacation, then make sure to replace your flip flops each summer if you can.
  • If wearing sandals, try to follow the above recommendations for good arch support. Additionally, sandals with a heel strap will provide better support and prevent excess movement of your foot within the sandal while walking.

A Sampling of Shoe Brands with Good Reputations:4, 5

  • New Balance
  • Asics
  • Brooks
  • Vionic

As always, the therapists at PRA would love to assist with any foot pain and foot wear recommendations.  Contact your local PRA clinic for more information.

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2 = Garrett TR, Neibert PJ. The effectiveness of a gastrocnemius-soleus stretching program as a therapeutic treatment of plantar fasciitis. J Sport Rehabil. 2013;22(4):308-312.

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