NIKE, ADDIDAS, Rebook, Skechers, Under Armour, Brooks. All are reputable shoe companies, right? Which brand is the best for the feet and back? The answer is all of the above. All of these shoe companies have great products and designs; however, some models are better than others. In addition, none of these shoes have built-in orthotics. In this week’s blog, we will be discussing the importance of footwear, what shoes to look for, the importance of orthotics, and what we can do to help.
The Importance of Footwear
Early humans walked barefoot and did so for millions of years. It’s not conclusive, but theories suggest that the earliest known shoes were sagebrush bark sandals dating from approximately 7000 or 8000 BC. Over time, humans designed and restructured shoes into what they have become today.
The most important thing about footwear is protecting the feet. Footwear protects the feet from blunt trauma, cold/hot temperatures, fungus, allergies, insect bites, and stepping on inanimate objects such as nails, needles, or broken glass. Proper footwear also requires good stability, durability, and specifically designed structure for foot comfort and proper biomechanical balance.
Finding the Right Shoe
Is there really any shoe brand out there that is bad for biomechanical structure? The answer can be both yes and no. As far as a poor branded shoe, big brand names that we mentioned earlier are all decent brands; however, some of their products are better than others. Some products are meant specifically for shock absorption during activities of daily living, running, CrossFit, or specific athletic sport. Before buying a shoe, we highly recommend researching the product and looking at reviews for good comfortability, durability, arch support, and pronation/supination structure. If you’re not sure if a specific shoe is good or bad, please talk to the doctors and they can help you find the correct shoe.
Aside from the structure and technology of a specific shoe, there are some basic rules to remember when buying shoes. First and foremost, make sure the shoes are not too big or too small for the feet. Shoes that are too big can result in a sprained ankle or fractured bone. Shoes that are too small can result in poor comfortability and numbness in the feet due to compression on blood vessels and nerves. Wearing shoes that are too small for the feet and cause compression for a prolonged period of time can result in nerve damage. Also, avoid wearing shoes that have a higher heel (including boots) and open toed shoes (flip flops, sandals) because they have little to no arch support which can result in negative changes to the spinal curve, foot, back, and even neck pain.
The Importance of Foot Orthotics
Exactly what are orthotics and how do they work? Orthotics are specially designed shoe inserts that help support the feet and improve foot posture.
There are hundreds of different orthotic brands. Some are better than others, but they all have the same purpose. Orthotics strive to maintain arch support, to obtain proper foot pronation, and to reduce pressure on the feet. Having these three components helps keep the feet in good condition, which will further maintain the integrity of the spine and nervous system.
Finding the Right Foot Orthotics
Have you ever had a great pair of foot orthotics? Just because it’s an orthotic doesn’t make it a great product. There are many orthotic companies out there that are inadequate and are very costly. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any orthotic companies that have great products and are relatively inexpensive because there are.
In the previous section, we stated that most orthotics strive to maintain arch support, to obtain proper foot pronation, and to reduce pressure on the feet. These all hold true, but another thing to look for is comfortability. We have noticed a considerable number of patients have purchased extremely hard orthotics without any cushion. Ironically, more than 50% of orthotics are too firm and have no cushion, leaving patients without pain relief. Orthotic brands that possess these four qualities are essential for effective foot equilibrium and pain reduction.
What Can We Do to Help?
As chiropractors, we realize that the feet are the foundation of the entire body. Therefore, our first job is to look for any nerve interference within the spine that could correlate with foot pain. We are trained to adjust the feet and extremity regions. During treatment, we also will examine the shoes and look for any wear and tear or instability. It is very important to alternate or replace shoes frequently depending on the activity level. Some patients may need to replace their shoes once a year, while 3-6 months may be more appropriate for others. The more active an individual is, the quicker a shoe will wear out.
Ultimately, it’s never a bad idea to get a pair of orthotics. If you are having a difficult time locating a good pair of orthotics, look no further. We sell a great brand of orthotics that even PGA golfers and NFL football players utilize to maintain proper foot equilibrium and to enhance sports performance.
What makes our orthotics different than other brands? Most orthotic companies use a foot scanner or custom mold that focus on foot pressure rather than foot rotation like our orthotics do. Using a specially designed measurement tool, we are able to physically change the biomechanical structure and foot rotation that will help eliminate foot, lower extremity, and low back pain over time.
We covered a lot of information today on footwear and orthotics. Later in the week, we will demonstrate the difference between good shoes and bad shoes and how we fit a patient for a pair of our orthotics. Definitely a video you don’t want to miss. For more information or questions about proper footwear and orthotics, please call us at (724) 547-3377 and checkout our website at www.drlarrywilkinsspinalcare.com for more content.
Yours In Health,
Larry E. Wilkins, DC
Brian M. Steinert, DC