Shoes are more than just fashion accessories, they’re also important to maintaining the health of some of your most vital body parts – your feet. For runners, climbers, and even bodybuilders, foot doctors advise picking an appropriate shoe to avoid injury and maintain overall health.
Foot Injuries Common
The foot is one of the most used and dynamic parts of the body, and it only stands to reason that with all the wear and tear we put on their feet, sooner or later injuries will occur. About 75 percent of all people will experience foot problems at some point in their lives. Among active Americans, who walk and run more steps than most people, foot and ankle injuries can be quite common.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, about a quarter of all athletic injuries are foot and ankle related. Athletes competing in some sports, such as football, basketball, running, dancing, and soccer are more likely to sustain foot injuries because feet are the main points of contact in those sports.
Even non-athletes who participate in fitness activities are prone to foot injuries. Foot doctors say about 65 percent of all runners endure some form of injury, and about 20 percent of those injuries are foot or ankle-related, according to UpToDate. Among body builders and workout enthusiasts, about 22 percent of women and 11 percent of men sustain foot injuries.
Some of the most common foot injuries for athletes treated by foot doctors include:
Why Shoes Are Important
While not all foot injuries are preventable, many can be avoided by wearing proper footwear. Shoes provide support and protection to feet, which is particularly important when subjecting them to the constant repetitive activity that occurs when exercising or participating in sports. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation estimates that as many as a quarter of athletic foot injuries can be prevented by wearing appropriate footwear.
During strenuous exercise, your feet endure about 1 million pounds of pressure per hour. To properly insulate your feet from this pressure, appropriate footwear is a must. Differing activities will exert differing forces on the feet, making wearing sports-specific footwear important. For example, running requires footwear to provide added shock absorption, whereas activities like basketball require shoes that can provide ankle support to help athletes handle the sudden stops and starts in the game.
The type of activity you’ll be doing isn’t the only factor you’ll need to consider when choosing footwear. You’ll also need to think about the shape and contour of your feet. People with stiff and rigid feet will likely need shoes that provide extra heel and forefoot cushioning. Men and women with flat feet will likely need board-lasted shoes with stiffer heels and medial heel counters. If your feet aren’t too stiff or too flexible, combination-lasted shoes can help.
Athletic trainers, foot specialists, or shoe store representatives that specialize in athletic shoes can help you determine the type of shoes that will best suit your activity and foot type. When purchasing shoes, these general rules of thumb can also be helpful:
Other Tips to Prevent Foot Injuries
Purchasing the right shoes isn’t the only way you can reduce your likelihood of a foot injury. There are several other things foot specialists advise active Americans to do to avoid foot and ankle injuries, including:
For runners, athletes, or exercise enthusiasts seeking advice about proper footwear and foot-related injuries, Dr. Sean Ravaei of 866-866-FEET can help. Ravaei is a podiatrist in Southern California with years of experience in helping prevent and heal foot injuries. Ravaei provides individualized and holistic care to his patients, teaching them how foot health affects whole-body health. Ravaei’s assistance and treatment, including advice on footwear, can help keep active adults healthy, allowing them to enjoy their favorite activities safely.