Put your best foot forward
Lisa Preston of Shoemed offers advice on keeping your feet happy and healthy
At what age should we start looking after our feet?
Actually, it’s more a question of when do we foolishly decide to STOP looking after our feet! As children, our parents will take great care to have our feet measured and to have our shoes fitted correctly for our growing feet. However, as we become adults we tend to choose our footwear for fashion, rather than for comfort and fit and this is where permanent damage can be done.
So, what sort of damage can happen?
Shoes which are fitted too short, with your toes touching the end can cause ‘hammer’ toe deformities. Shoes which are too tight fitting can cause corns, a painful forefoot condition called a Morton’s Neuroma, and hasten the development of the dreaded bunions! Did you know? Celebrities with bunions include Victoria Beckham, The Duchess of Sussex and Oprah Winfrey.
Do I still need to have my feet measured every time I buy shoes?
If your shoe shop offers this service, why not? Every other part of our body changes size and shape with the passing of time – and the same happens with your feet! If your arches collapse, your feet will get slightly longer, and your feet can get wider with age.
Tip: Search on the website www. shoefitters-uk.org for a qualified shoe fitter who can measure your feet and discuss the best options in footwear for you.
I’ve worn good shoes all my life so why have I still got bunions? It’s not fair!
As with many traits we have as children, we can blame our parents! Bunions are not all caused by poor footwear choices – bunions can run in the family, but due to the fact that certain foot types are hereditary and are more likely to develop a bunion. For example, a hereditary flat foot puts more pressure on the hallux (big toe joint) so is therefore more likely to develop a bunion. You can help yourself by avoiding shoes with a very flat sole unit, such as ballet pumps, as these encourage excessive pronation (the natural side-to-side movement of the foot as you walk or run) and also by correcting imbalances with the use of arch supports or custom-made foot orthoses.
Can I combine comfort and fashion? I’m not wearing granny shoes!
Everybody’s idea of fashion is of course different, but I do remember a physiotherapist saying to me once that good posture takes years off your appearance, and there is no doubt that painful feet lead to poor posture. So, if your feet are comfortable, well supported and without pain – you will walk better. Every season it gets better with many shoes now being available in extra wide, extra depth fittings and with a more fashionable appearance. But common sense has to prevail, for example, if you have a painful forefoot, every extra bit of heel height puts more pressure on your forefoot and will cause pain. Save the heels for the ‘car to bar’ situations and wear a more comfortable shoe for everyday life and work.
We are not just talking about feet…
Many chronic health conditions can affect the feet, ankles, knees hips and back and footwear is a big part of pain management. Conditions such as osteo-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis lead to joint deformity and pain. Diabetes can affect the nerves and the healing process, leading to a foot ulcer in the worst case. Long term use of steroids thins the skin and can cause foot problems and pain, and oedema (swelling) caused by many different health factors can cause a headache when buying shoes as most ‘High Street’ footwear does not allow for any extra volume in the shoes. Unless you, or somebody you know, has experienced these issues it’s hard to understand the stress this can cause the person when shopping for shoes.
Shoemed, 66 Henley Street, Stratfordupon-avon, CV37 6PT, tel: 01789 299103, www.shoemed.co.uk
Lisa Preston of Shoemed, Stratford-upon-avon