24 Mar Are You Wearing the Right Shoes?
Patients often ask us which athletic shoe is “best”. The answer to that question is complicated and is almost always different for each patient. Our shoe recommendations are based on the following 3 criteria:
• Individual Biomechanical Assessment
• Need for custom orthoses
Individual Biomechanical Assessment
All patients in our practice receive a thorough evaluation of their musculoskeletal structure and function. We look at things like posture, limb length, muscle flexibility, and joint range of motion. In-office gait analysis is performed to determine to what extent any deficiencies in these areas are contributing to the patient’s chief complaint. 70% of people exhibit a phenomenon known as overpronation where the arch of the foot is flatter than it should be. This causes the ankle, knee, and even the hip to be slightly out of alignment. Just as with your car tires, misaligned body segments can cause uneven wear and other problems over time. The appropriate shoe can help mitigate the effects of naturally occurring misalignment and in some cases completely restore normal biomechanical function.
A patient’s activity and activity level are often overlooked when selecting shoe gear. This is particularly important for athletes participating in sports that require specialized footwear such as cleats or skates. Simply looking at the shoes themselves illustrates this point beautifully. Pictured below are a walking sneaker, neutral cushioned running sneaker, and a football cleat.
Each shoe has specific design elements that facilitate performance of the activity for which it is intended. It is important to be up to date with the ever-changing landscape of athletic shoes.
We regularly consult with local shoe stores and industry representatives so we are aware of latest design innovations and technologies available to help our patients and make the best recommendations. One of the most important things to know about any shoe model is its ability to accommodate a custom orthotic device.
Need for Custom Orthoses
Many times, a simple adjustment in shoe gear can resolve a patient’s issue and help them walk pain-free. However, due to the large variability in patient biomechanics and pathologies, simply using the correct shoe may not be enough to fully resolve symptoms or prevent injury. Also, some patients have foot postures that necessitate different forefoot or rearfoot accommodations or one foot may be slightly different than the other. This where custom orthoses can be very useful. We use a 3-D scanner to create a precise model of a patient’s foot and then enter a digital prescription for a lab to construct a custom shoe insert to address that individual patient’s needs.
It is important to know if a patient needs custom orthotic devices as it plays a vital role in shoe selection. A shoe may meet all other requirements for that patient, but if it does not fit their orthotic, that patient would be better off in a different model. Likewise, if we have done everything else correctly from a conservative and surgical standpoint and the patient using the wrong shoes, they can expect a suboptimal result.
We take shoe selection very seriously. Come in to see how we can optimize your performance and get you living your best life in a professionally selected shoe. Remember, at Strash Foot & Ankle, we’re here to help you put your best foot forward, again!