Choosing the right shoe can not only enhance your life, but potentially save it, especially if you suffer from diabetes. The average person walks 110,000 miles in their lifetime. Twenty five percent of the bones in our body are in our feet. This illustrates the importance of choosing good footwear to protect these tiny bones that support us as we take an average of 2,000 to 3,000 steps daily.
“Obviously ill-fitting shoes can be uncomfortable and cause pain when walking. Things such as blisters, calluses and corns are very easy to link to poor shoe selection, “Dr. Oliver Zong, a leading podiatrist with NYC Footcare tells Newsmax. “But what is not so obvious are the possible long-term effects. There are tremendous forces acting on your feel and even the smallest disruption caused by ill fitting shoes can lead to deformities such as bunions and hammertoes.”
Dr. Zong adds that shoes that are not properly supportive can lead to arch issues such as plantar fasciitis.
“Wearing heels all the time can lead to tight Achilles tendons and people who live in flip flops can also develop painful foot issues because there is no arch support at all,” he says.
Even scarier, people with diabetes can develop serious and potentially life-threatening conditions if they are not fitted properly. Approximately 60,000 foot and leg amputations occur annually among the diabetic population and a good many of these are caused by poor footwear.
“People with diabetes often have neuropathy and lose sensation in their feet,” Dr. Zong explains. “Because of the loss of sensation, diabetics are at higher risk of foot problems. A simple callus or ulcer can lead to hospitalization and in the worst-case scenario, amputation.”
Here’s a trick to see if your footwear is functional or fashionable: Stand barefoot on a piece of paper or cardboard and trace the shape of each foot. Now take your shoes and place them one by one on top of the drawing. If you’re like most people, your most comfortable shoes will closely match the outline of your feet.
Florida based Paul Weiner, a certified pedorthist—a specialist in the fitting of orthotics and diabetic prescription footwear-- offers these tips:
- If your feet naturally expand during the day or in hot weather, wait until the afternoon to try on shoes. Bring the socks or stockings you would normally wear with those shoes.
- Have the salesperson measure both your feet each time you shop for shoes. “Always fit the bigger foot,” advises Weiner.
- Stand up when you try on your shoes. Make sure there’s a thumb’s width space between your longest toe and the end of the shoes.
- Walk around to make sure that you have enough room in the ball of the shoe and that your heel fits comfortably and snugly without discomfort. “Well built leather shoes will shape to your feet,” says Weiner. “But they should never be painful or need to be ‘broken in.’”
- Trust your own judgment and don’t go by a fixed size, style or manufacturer. Comfort is key and should not be sacrificed for trendy footwear if you want to treat your feet right. For example, an adjustable, open toe shoe helps your feet expand naturally while a narrow, pointed toe can cause calluses and bunions.
- As we age, we lose the fat padding on the bottom of our feet, so wearing shoes with really good sole support and cushioning is crucial. Popular flip flops and ballet style shoes offer less than 1/8 inch soles with almost zero support for the feet, says Weiner. However, there are some manufacturers such as Vionic and Reef that have built arch and heel support in their flip flops.
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