Participating in events such as yesterday’s New York City Marathon may not be a realistic goal for many Americans, but they can still benefit from some exercise by simply taking a walk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, walking briskly for 2 hours and 30 minutes each week — easily broken up into five 30-minute walks — can get you the physical activity you need to keep you healthy and prevent disease.
But if your feet hurt from conditions such as plantar fasciitis, even a walk around the block can cause discomfort.
Plantar fasciitis, according to the Mayo Clinic, is one of the most common causes of foot pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes (plantar Fascia).
It commonly causes stabbing pain that occurs with the first steps of the morning, and it eases as the day progresses and you move about. However, it can return after long periods of standing or rising after sitting.
What can you do to alleviate the pain associated with the condition? Footwear can be a starter. According to Dr. Grace Torres-Hodjes, a Pensacola, Fla.,-based podiatrist, while there is not a specific shoe type that addresses plantar fasciitis, some important things to look for involve rearfoot support including deep heel cups, firm heel counters, flared heels, good cushioning, and arch support, whether it’s a sneaker, loafer or oxford. “Bottom line,” she said, “that knocks out your flip-flops and sandals.”
Here are five features to shop for.
Deep heel cup
A deep heel cup allows for the rearfoot to be held in place and sit in the shoe.
Firm heel cup
This allows for the rearfoot to be gripped, so that it does not shift or twist.
A flared heel stabilizes and does not cause the foot to wobble.
Plenty of cushioning allows for pressure relief on the initial heel strike as you walk.
And finally, arch support. In order to spread the weight of the foot evenly as more of the plantar surface of the foot remans in contact with the ground and the entire length of the plantar fascia is supported.
Dr. Torres-Hodges also recommends shopping for shoes later in the day when feet tend to swell. And while these may seem like footwear basics, she recommends patients not rely on the size of their last pair of shoes, since manufacturer sizing differs.
“Get both feet measured, and buy for the larger foot,” she emphasized. Next, try on shoes with socks or the hose you expect to wear, as well as any orthotic devices that have been prescribed, since these can alter the fit and comfort of a shoe.
Lastly, there’s not a break-in period, so make sure shoes fit comfortably in the store.
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