Shoe choice the sole suspect?

Worn shoes can cause problems for your feet and your overall health. Photo: Tona Kunz

One thing we often observe in the Medical Office is the wide array of footwear worn by employees, visitors, contactors and students. Sometimes it’s the flip-flop wearing student complaining of aching arches. Or sometimes it is the individual with the much loved and highly worn athletic shoe telling us about knee pain.

What they don’t realize is that footwear can make a big difference in their health. Our style choices can cause some serious feet problems. See WebMD for a list of the worst shoes for your feet and some healthy alternatives for different occasions.

The problem is sometimes that we don’t know when to retire our shoes. To tell if your shoes are worn out, place both shoes on a level surface soles down big toe to big toe. Look at the shoes from behind. If they are listing at all, (typically away from each other) then you have worn-out shoes. Dress shoes can sometimes be re-soled, but in many cases it’s time to say good-bye. There are recycling programs to keep your shoes from going to the dump, as some shows can be recycled to make a gym floor surface.

Another good test is to check the mid-sole, the slab of material stacked on top of the true sole where the rubber meets the road. Typically it is a crescent-shaped piece visible on the big-toe side of the shoe, at about the arch. If you see vertical wrinkles or cracks in the material, the mid-sole is no longer cushioning your foot and it’s time to change shoes. Heavy use, lots of miles and moisture (like running in the rain and snow or high humidity) hasten the mid-sole’s demise.

The Medical Office staff is always willing to pronounce work shoes dead, so that new shoes can be authorized ahead of the scheduled one-year exchange. We’d prefer protect your “original equipment”—your feet.

Please take a look down once in a while and consider what the right shoe can do for you.

—Dr. Brian Svazas, Medical Office