Shoe Tips We Should Have Learned In Kindergarten

Recently, I had the opportunity of having a relative work in the office.  During that time, whenever we got together as a family, all kinds of stories and humorous patient encounters were discussed.  My wife, Mary (name has not been changed), commented on the “whole new world” that had opened up to her as I tend to leave my job at the office.  I hope to be able to provide some humorous details about my wonderful profession as well as some good therapeutic nuggets in this blog.  Names have been changed to protect . . . their Health Information (google HIPPA).

Here is something we should have all learned about in kindergarten. . .  Shoes.

Just yesterday I saw Cindy who was just getting over a foot fracture.  Cindy is a teenager and as you would guess very attached to her “fashionable” shoe gear.  I took her out of her cast boot and discussed the process of resuming activities.  As I was counseling with her I noticed (as I always do) Cindy’s choice of shoe for the unaffected foot.  Needless to say it was not the most robust or stalwart of shoes needed for such an active young lady just recovering from an injury.

Here is what I told her:

First, make sure you go at the end of the day to buy shoes.  All of our feet swell – not to mention the ones that have just had surgery, a prior injury, and/or chronic swelling due to some systemic issue.

Second, measure your feet while you stand.  Those measuring devices are stealthily placed next to some sort of chair or my favorite – a bench with a little mirror at shoe level so you can see your tootsies in them.  Your feet elongate when you stand and do get longer as you get older.  My favorite was Martha who indicated, proudly, that in all her 89 years she had always been the same size.  I am still scratching my head over that one.

Third, start looking for a shoe that is 1/2 to a full size larger than what you measure.  This is only a guideline as different shoe brands follow different sizing.  Bottom line:  you should have a half thumb to a thumbs width between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe when standing because, you guessed it, your foot elongates even more when you walk.

Fourth, if you have orthotics (more on these in a later blog) bring them with you to put in the potential chosen ones.

Fifth, the shoe should be comfortable when you leave the store.  You should not, I repeat, you should NOT HAVE TO BREAK IN A SHOE.  Of course hiking boots are the exception (there always is one).  If you are doing sports specific activities buy the appropriate shoe.  If you have a funky looking foot – see your local podiatrist.  He/she would be able to help you find out why your feet have a tough time fitting into normal shoes.

Gone are the days that you will be fit by the helpful and knowledgeable shoe sales staff at xyz shoe store.  You have to be knowledgeable about shoe buying.  If you think, however, that you are now forever consigned to clodhoppers and all you would need to complete the picture is green skin and zippers all over your face – I give you hope.  There are a lot of good sensible shoes I think are fashionably acceptable.  Bring your shoes with you to your podiatrist.  I have been known to discuss bags full with my patients.  I don’t care if you are a Nike, Reebok, Asics, New Balance, Merrell, Naot or Sketcher person . . . They must be comfortable when you leave the store.  If they are not – DON’T BUY THEM.

I finished giving Cindy the ABC’s of shoe buying and was met with a blank stare.  “So can I ever wear high heels again?” she said.  I sighed, smiled and replied, “only in moderation and for only 1-2 hours a week at maximum and especially after verifying that your fractured foot is pain free”.  She seemed resolved to this and she left only after a few other questions about the now healed fractured foot.

I then called her mom and repeated everything I told Cindy.