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Six Footwear Dos and Don’ts

Posted 10/26/2016 by UHBlog

If you overdid comfort and fashion so that now your feet – and body – are feeling the assault, we can help.

Six Footwear Dos and Don’ts

From squeezing your toes into pointy heels to walking around all day in sandals with no support, your feet handle a lot. That’s why the footwear you choose is so important. Aside from serving as the perfect complement to your outfits, the right footwear stabilizes ankles, protects soles and keeps posture aligned.

“Good footwear to me means accommodating footwear,” says podiatrist Karen Rodriguez-Velazquez, DPM. “We all have different feet. We all have different deformities and problems. Bottom line: Your shoes should fit you properly.”

But that doesn’t mean you have to walk around all day in clunky orthopedic shoes.

“Every time a patient sees me, they can’t believe I’m wearing heels,” Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez says. “I have no problem with my patients occasionally wearing heels unless they’re giving you pain.”

If you want footwear that is both fashionable and functional, follow Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez's advice:

  1. Don’t buy shoes without trying them on first.
    Fits vary from brand to brand and style to style.
    “That’s why trying on the shoes is so crucial,” she says. “And when I say try them on, I mean try on both shoes.”
    Oftentimes, a shoe that fits one foot may not fit the other.
    “Many people have feet that are not symmetrical,” Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez says. “Their left side may have hammer toes, or the right foot might be a half-sized larger than the left one.”
    Always try on both shoes in different sizes to be able to identify which size is more comfortable to both feet, Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez says.
  2. Don’t shop for your shoes early in the morning.
    Your feet are at their smallest first thing in the morning, says Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez. Walking and standing tends to cause your feet to swell up. The shoe that fit at 9 a.m. might feel incredibly snug at 5 p.m.
    “You want to make sure you are buying a shoe that is true to size,” she says. “To do that, I always tell my patients to buy their shoes during the afternoon.”
  3. Don’t buy second-hand shoes.
    If a shoe looks worn in, it’s probably also worn down. Hand-me-down shoes simply don’t have the same heel, sole and cushioning support as new shoes. And wearing second hand shoes is the easiest way to get athlete’s foot, Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez says.
    “You are putting your feet into a shoe that someone else was sweating in," she says. "It’s just not hygienic.”
  4. Do re-measure your foot at least once a year.
    Foot size often changes with age. Most people, however, don’t think to re-check their shoes measurements. It’s not uncommon to learn that you have been wearing the wrong size for years.
    “Some of my patients will say to me, ‘I got measured back in 1965 and I was a size 9 then. I’m sure I’m still a size 9.’ Then they get checked and they’re shocked to learn that they are actually a size 10,” she says.
    According to Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez, the best way to check your foot size is to ask a salesperson to measure you with a Brannock device--the silver octagonal shaped foot-measuring system that almost all shoe stores carry.
  5. Do wear proper shoes when working out.
    All athletic footwear is not constructed the same way.
    “As an example, basketball shoes are stiffer and much heavier than running shoes,” Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez says.
    Your ankles will ache if you try to run long distances with them. If you intend to invest a lot of time in an athletic activity, it’s best to start with the correct footwear. Wearing the wrong footwear – no matter how cute they are or how great a deal you got on them – can put you at a greater risk for injury, Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez says.
  6. Do search for shoes with thicker heels.
    It’s okay to wear high heels, Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez says. But stay away from shoes with needle-thin stilettos.
    “The thicker the heel the more stable you are walking around in them,” she says.
    For patients who don’t have any foot pain, Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez says shoes with one-to-three-inch heels are fine. For those looking for height--without the arch pressure--Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez suggests looking for wedge-heeled shoes. Don’t forget an ankle strap to increase stability.

Karen Rodriguez-Velazquez, DPM is a podiatrist at University Hospitals Euclid Health Center, University Hospitals Mentor Health Center and University Hospitals Regional Hospitals Richmond Campus. You can request an appointment with Dr. Rodriguez-Velazquez or any other doctor online.

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