6 Shoe Mistakes that Could be Causing your Foot Pain

Shoe Pile

Shoe Pile

If you’ve ever hobbled off of the dance floor at a wedding with your heels in hand, or ever found yourself looking forward to the moment you go home after a long day spent in meetings so that you can slip your new pain of work shoes off- you’ll know that shoes can easily cause foot pain.

This holds true for all types of footwear, not just the fancy kind…

Exercise shoes, office shoes, sandals and that pair of weekend errand running shoes we all have – they can all lead to painful feet as well.

But, before you throw out every pair of shoes that you own- let’s talk about your feet.

A lot of us are unaware of just how big of a role feet play in supporting your body.

Feet have the huge job of supporting all of your body weight and take the impact of standing, walking, running and everything else that you do throughout the day.

Your feet are made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Crazy to think about huh? So when your feet don’t get the support that they need, it’s no wonder why you can get issues!

Lack of support can also cause pain beyond your feet- your knees, back, and other parts of your body begin to overcompensate, which can lead to pain in those areas too….which is not good at all.

With all of the above in mind, here are 6 shoe mistakes that cause foot pain. Are you making any of them?

1. You’re Unaware of Your Arches

Generally speaking, there are two types of feet:

  • High arched
  • Low arched

And the demands of these two types are quite different!

For someone with high arched feet- they have taller ‘gaps’ on the soles of their feet.

For someone with low arches – the curves between the balls of the foot and heels are closer to the ground.

The curve of your shoe should support your arches so that they can, in turn, support the rest of your feet and body. A good running shop, shoe shop or physical therapy clinic can figure out what’s best for you.

2. You Choose Your Running Shoes Based on Appearance

Have you ever purchased a pair of shoes because you think they look good? You’re definitely not alone, many of us do. I’ve been guilty of it too!

The truth is, picking the right performance shoe should be a strategic process.

When you need a new pair of running shoes, go into a specialty running store and speak with a specialist. It’s important to consider things such as the type of exercise you’ll be doing- running over 20 miles outdoors each week is VERY different from doing pilates classes a few times a week.

If you can afford to, have a few kinds of trainers for the workouts that you do most often.

Wearing a tennis shoe for running, or a basketball shoe for weight lifting, can promote injuries- choose wisely.

3. You ‘Break In’ Your New Pairs of Shoes

While it’s true that some shoes made of various materials, like hiking boots, might need some ‘breaking in’ before you get to the point where you feel like you’re walking on clouds.

Your shoes need to become accustomed to your feet over time to avoid pain and nasty blisters that so often come with a new pair of shoes.

Instead of pushing through the pain, wear your shoes a little at a time until they loosen naturally. Whether you’re doing this at home or while you’re out and about getting things done, keep a pair of socks handy to prevent blisters.

4. You Walk Around Barefoot at Home

Do you throw your shoes off as soon as you step through the door after a long day?

For many of us, taking our shoes off is one of the best feelings! But for some people. Walking or standing barefoot on surfaces like hardwood floors, marble or tile places stress on the structures of the feet, either causing or making pain worse over time.

This can happen when the fleshy parts of your heel or balls of your feet, that help cushion our body weight, wear down.

If you have foot pain that feels worse when you walk around barefoot- get a pair of slippers to wear around the house to ease the pain.

5. You Don’t Use Insoles

…Or understand their purpose.

Depending on your foot type and foot pain, you might already have insoles that come with your shoes. However, they may not be right, or even supportive for you.

To ease the pain, stop it from getting worse, or even to prevent it from coming on- it’s a smart idea to get yourself a pair of customized insoles (also known as orthotics).

They also act to make activities such as running, walking and even standing more efficient. They can also act to redistribute pressure on the bottom of the foot to relieve pain from excessive pressure or calluses.

Rarely, however, are true custom orthotics available in many places, and most definitely not in shoe stores, retail stores or even pharmacys.  These can be pricey, so be sure you have tried everything else before jumping in to a custom set.

You’re Still Wearing That Worn Down Pair of Shoes from 2014

Many of us throw away a pair of shoes when they’re looking a bit worse for wear and worn down.

But, once the sole of your shoe begins to breakdown, it changes the way your foot strikes the ground. This can ultimately cause pain in your feet, hips, knees and back. It can even happen before your shoes start showing obvious signs that it’s time for a brand new pair!

Depending on your activity level, it takes a few months to a year of daily use to wear out footwear.

If you really love a pair of shoes, then re-soling them or adding an insert can help to prolong their wear.

But don’t hold onto a pair of shoes too long, before it’s too late!

The takeaway: Your feet are probably doing way more than you give them credit for, so they need shoes to match.

The right choices for you will depend on your activity levels, height, weight, walking and running style. If you’re experiencing any kind of foot pain that lasts for days, it makes it almost impossible to live your life as normal.

If you’d like to read about more tips and tricks to ease and prevent foot and ankle pain, here is my free report:

Download Your Free Foot & Ankle Pain Guide
Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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