Footwear Assessments

Why is a footwear assessment important?

A footwear assessment is important as shoes can contribute to a particular biomechanical abnormality or cause pain if not fitted correctly. Shoes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and some shoes suit specific foot types better than others. For example some joggers have a medial posting (extra support on the same side as your arch) which would be best for a patient with a pes planus foot type (flat feet) as opposed to a pes cavus (high arched) foot type. Slick marketing can make it difficult for the consumer to make the correct choice for their individual feet. At Hills District Podiatry we will take the time to explain to you what shoe would best suit your foot type.

What are the ideal properties of a shoe?

There are numerous good properties to look out for in a shoe, to name a few:

  • The ideal fit: The shoe should fit both in length and in width. Shoe fitting is best done at the end of the day as some people’s feet will swell after a day of standing. Width is important, as if the shoe is too tight, corns can result, and bunion formation may be exacerbated. Shoes that are too loose may cause blistering.
  • Suitable for your foot type: Having the correct shoe to suit your foot type can help improve biomechanical abnormalities and assist with how the foot functions inside the shoe. As stated previously, some joggers have a medial posting while others are designed for a ‘neutral’ or high arched foot type.
  • Strong heel counter: A heel counter refers to the reinforcement around the heel cup of the shoe. A firm heel counter helps support the foot and stabilises the heel in a relatively neutral position while walking or running.
  • Strong shank: The shank of the shoe assists in reducing movement through the middle of the foot. It is the main supportive structure within the shoe that assists with reducing twisting while you are walking.
  • Flexion at the toes: The flexion at the toes (also known as the metatarsophalangeal joints) is the main location that flexion should occur in the shoe. As the shoe wears out it is not unusual for the location of flexion to move further back to the midsole. The flexion at the toes allows for propulsion during the gait cycle.
  • Laces or Velcro: Laces or velcro straps allow the wearer to ensure the shoe is correctly fastened to the foot. Having a shoe that is not well secured decreases stability and increases falls risk amongst the elderly, or those with balance problems. If your shoe is loose it can also require various muscles of the foot within the lower limb to work harder to keep the shoe on. Over time this may contribute to conditions such as hammer toes.
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