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THE FACTS ON SHOE-RELATED DISCOMFORT:

WHY SHOE-RELATED DISCOMFORT CAN BE MORE THAN A NUISANCE

Selecting the right shoes can be a challenge. Shopping for shoes often creates a battle between fashion and comfort. Even practical shoes and high-performance athletic shoes can cause unexpected trouble. Shoe-related discomfort should be taken seriously because if left unchecked, an issue that may seem like a mild nuisance can turn into bigger problems down the road.

Many women love the look of high heels but these types of shoes come with potential consequences. High heels put pressure on the ball of the foot, which can lead to pain. They also shift your weight forward, forcing your toes into a tight space. High heels can contribute to a number of issues:

Hammertoes  When repeatedly crammed into a tight space, the toes can develop a bend in the middle of the toe joint, making them look crooked. This is called hammertoe.

Corns  Typically found on the tops and sides of the toes, corns are small, hard bumps formed by layers of dead skin.

Ingrown toenails  When a toenail grows into the skin or skin grows over the sides of a toenail, an ingrown toenail can occur.

Bunions — When the joint at the base of the big toe becomes misaligned, the tip of the toe is pulled towards the second toe, causing the bone at the toe base to jut out. The jutting bone forms a bump called a bunion.

Calluses  Typically located on the sole of the foot, calluses are layers of thickened skin that usually cover a significant area.

Blisters — Most often caused by friction, blisters are fluid-filled pockets that develop between skin layers.

Even if you’re not wearing heels, if your shoes are too tight, your feet can suffer from friction, which can lead to corns, calluses and blisters. Tight shoes can also aggravate bunions.

You may also experience issues if your shoes are too loose and slide around. If your shoes rub on the back of the heel or against the ankles, you can get sores and blisters.

Shoes that lack proper cushioning and support can lead to heel pain along with tired, achy feet at the end of the day. Over time, serious complications can arise.

WHY SHOE-RELATED DISCOMFORT IS THE ENEMY

While the immediate effects of shoe-related discomfort might not seem like a major problem, there may be much bigger complications over time.

Problematic shoes can put pressure on the knees and lower back, potentially leading to pain, which can worsen over time. The wrong shoes can also lead to hip and ankle pain. Athletes need to be especially careful to select the right shoes for a given sport. The wrong shoes may contribute to or aggravate certain conditions, including:

Plantar fasciitis — When the ligament that attaches the heel bone to the toes (plantar fascia) aggravates the attachment to your heel and causes pain, it’s called plantar fasciitis.

Shin splints — Considered an overuse injury, shin splints refer to pain and inflammation along the shin bone.

Achilles tendinitis — The Achilles tendon connects the heel bone to the calf muscles. When this tendon becomes damaged and inflamed, it’s called Achilles tendinitis.

WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT SHOE-RELATED DISCOMFORT?

If you’re experiencing shoe-related discomfort, you may be wondering if you need to get new shoes or if there are ways to work with what you have. While it’s best to wear good quality, well-fitting shoes, you can make adjustments to reduce discomfort and improve the fit and performance of your existing shoes.

Blisters If your shoes are rubbing against areas of your foot, there are a number of blister solutions available. Moleskin can help prevent blister-causing friction and blister cushions can help speed the healing of existing blisters while preventing new ones.

Bunions  If bunions are making it painful to wear your regular shoes, bunion cushions can be placed directly over the bunion, creating a protective barrier between the tender area and the shoe.

Corns and calluses  If friction from your shoes has led to corns or calluses, consider using corn and callus cushions to protect the area against rubbing. Some products perform double duty, gently eliminating the corn or callus while guarding against friction.

You can also find specialized shoe inserts for specific needs. There are a number of shoe inserts designed specifically for high heels and pumps that can help reduce discomfort and keep common foot issues at bay. These include heel liners, ball of the foot cushions and insoles designed specifically for high heels.

A number of different shoe inserts are available for various issues and concerns. Even high quality shoes can fall short when it comes to support and cushioning. Orthotics and insoles can help enhance shoe comfort and performance in order to minimize common foot-related issues.

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