Back to Living Better

Don’t let foot pain cramp your style

In our modern society, we are constantly on our feet, meaning soreness at the end of the day, particularly if you wear certain types of shoes. Dr. Charles Haendel, a podiatrist at Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, to learn more about how to keep feet healthy and pain-free. Did you know that 25 percent of the bones in your body can be found in your feet? The foot is comprised of 26 bones, 38 muscles and 108 ligaments. Given that they support our entire body weight, it is imperative to take good care of our feet.

Before the days of modern society, human feet were adapted to walking on softer, uneven surfaces with a ball-of-the-foot strike pattern. “Evolutionarily, our feet were not made to walk on hard, flat surfaces,” says Charles Haendel, M.D., a podiatrist at Piedmont Mountainside Hospital. “Now we are on concrete, asphalt or terrazzo floors, so we have adaptively changed our gait to a prominent heel strike.”

In our modern society, Dr. Haendel sees more women with foot problems. “When women go through their child-bearing years, the pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes ligaments and the longitudinal arches. As a result, women’s shoe sizes change,” he says. Dr. Haendel adds that many women are wearing the wrong size shoe and choosing fashion over comfort, which can lead to foot pain now and bigger problems down the road.

The Choice Between Fashion and Foot Health

“High heels create not only foot problems and demand an unnatural position of the foot, but they create structural problems as well,” says Dr. Haendel. “Rheumatologists and orthopedists have multiple papers to show that high heels can destroy the knee progressively.”

So how can we make stylish and safe footwear choices? Dr. Haendel says to remember the following criteria:

  1. The shoe should properly fit to your foot and support your arch.
  2. Buy moderately high heels – not sky-high stilettos. Pick heels that do not cause your toes to contract or Achilles tendon to tighten.
  3. Shoes should be comfortable when you try them on. Don’t believe that you can “break them in.”

Given that our feet carry our entire body weight and make up a large portion of our osteo-structure, it is crucial to wear proper shoes. Remember Dr. Haendel’s tips next time you are shoe shopping and if you are struggling with persistent foot pain, it may be time to see your doctor.

For more ways to keep your feet in top shape, click here.

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

Related Stories

Schedule your appointment online