Pain at the front of your foot or forefoot is a very common presentation to a SportsMed clinic, especially with women, mainly because of women’s casual and dress shoes. Morton’s Neuromas, Metatarsalgia, Bunions, Claw toes, Corns and Sesamoiditis are just a few of the conditions that commonly come through the door.
A lot of the advice given for prevention revolves around making sure your footwear fits properly and is not forcing weight onto the front of your feet. High heeled and/or pointy footwear tend to cause the most problems because of the squeezing of relatively malleable toes, the lack of cushioning under the forefoot and the increase of force being shifted toward to the front of the feet.
Flat shoes however can also cause problems because they also usually don’t have very much cushioning and put the structures under your foot on full stretch because of the flat heel.
What is therefore recommended in terms of structure of a women’s shoe is:
- a slight heel up to 1 inch
- as square at the toes as fashionably as possible
- the shoe should also only break where the big toe breaks and should be stiff
- the shoe should also not twist very much through the mid-portion
Now this is all well and good but I am sure most of women reading this will have an ugly shoe image in their head so footwear management is important. How this works is that when you are at home or not having to be as presentable, put your feet into something very supportive and comfortable (e.g. orthotic thongs or joggers) so as to offset the limited times you should be wearing not so sensible shoes.
If you are in a profession that requires you to be presentable and wear high heels then it is also important to be smart with how you manage your time around having to wear them. For example while you are in the office not having to see clients you hop into a lower heeled supportive casual shoe. It might not be your favourite shoe but at least it will decrease the overall strain on your feet and hopefully allow you to wear your favourite high heels for years to come.
Aleks Baruksopulo is a Sports Podiatrist and works for the Pogo physio team. You can find out more about Pogo Physio on their website here.