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Are You Wearing the “Right” Shoes For Long Walks?

Dr. Arnan Sisson, PT/ July 21,2022

We see quite a few walkers here at Sisson & Associates, and one of the questions that they almost always ask is, “Am I wearing the right walking shoes?”

Even our folks who are suffering from foot pain from hiking, standing a lot at work, or daily life ask this question. Since so many people ask, I thought it would be valuable to share the information that we give our patients!

Marketing and the media will tell you that you need to get the latest version of your favorite brand’s shoe because it has “new technology” and looks pretty cool. And for a couple hundred dollars, they should look cool!

But, how come even after you update your shoes or get a new style that should be better for your feet, you still have nagging knee, foot, or hip pain?

Probably because research has found that running related injuries have a lot less to do with shoe type than shoe companies (and maybe even your healthcare professional) has led you to believe!

It turns out that generic recommendations for shoe type based on: foot structure, pronation/supination, arch height, etc have little to no effect on injury prevention in recreational walkers.

Unfortunately, most people don’t know this, and focus on changing footwear when they feel pain, and then get frustrated when they don’t see results.

We had a patient who had chronic knee pain with long walks, and thought that it was because she pronated too much. So, she bought new shoes with arch support to prevent her from pronating. Not only did it not fix the problem, it actually made her pain worse.

She had to stop running altogether because she was worried about making the problem worse, or getting seriously injured.

She decided to come to our office for a postural scan where we took at how her whole body took stress to get to the root of the problem.

It turned out that she had some instability at her hip, and also some limited foot and ankle mobility, which is why her foot pronated to compensate, and why the arch support didn’t help. It actually made things worse because it stopped her body from compensating.

We worked together to help her work on the cause of the problem, and she is back to walking in her old shoes, pain free!

So, if you are feeling pain with daily walking, what should you do instead of changing shoes?

Find the cause of your pain!

Don’t try to buy new shoes to put a band-aid on the problem. Don’t rest for weeks until the pain goes away, only to have it come back as soon as you start running.

Click here to talk to a Doctor of Physical Therapy about your running related pain, and to get to the root cause of the issue so that you can walk as far as you want without having to worry about pain holding you back.

Lastly, if you don’t have pain with walking, the current footwear recommendations are: Wear shoes that feel good, transition carefully to new shoes if yours are worn out, and slowly increase your daily walks to minimize stress building up.