Orthopedic Footwear: 

Orthopedic shoes are specially designed shoes that provide support and pain relief for people suffering with some type of pain in the legs, ankles, or feet. Historically, the shoes are designed with an eye more toward function than fashion, although the orthopedic footwear of today is usually more attractive than the selections in years past. 

Generally, the main function of orthopedic shoes is to provide more support for the feet and ankles than is accomplished by basic footwear. The exact design for the shoes will vary, depending on the nature of the particular health problem of the wearer. For example, different types of orthopedic shoes would be used to provide relief for such condition as bunions, hammertoe, or fallen arches. There is no one design for the orthopedic shoe that will effectively work for all types of foot or leg problems. 

How important is it to wear appropriate footwear?

The shoe is what holds the orthotic in the proper place on your foot. Footwear can maximize the value of an orthotic, or limit it. Although orthotics are made to move from shoe to shoe, they don’t perform the same in all shoes. Because an orthotic takes up room that would otherwise be available for the foot, not all shoe types are suitable for the use of an orthotic. Many of today’s shoes, however, are manufactured with a removable inlay, which is the “bed” of the shoe on which the foot rests. When the inlay is removed, there is typically sufficient room to replace it with an orthotic.

Shoe Fitting - Tips

Shoe Fitting – Tips

Shoes everyone wears them…so treat your feet right and wear shoes that fit and function properly!

To help you select shoes that are right for your feet, here are some tips courtesy of the Pedorthic Footcare Association of Canada:

  1.  Shoe sizes are not standard. Sizes vary between all shoe brands and styles. A size 7.5 from one shoe manufacturer might fit like a size 8 from another. Don’t select shoes by the size marked on the shoe. Start with a size range and go from there.
  2.  Have both feet measured every time you purchase a pair of shoes. Most people do not realize that over the course of your lifetime, your feet will change in both size and shape. For many people, one foot is slightly longer and/or wider than the other, so choose a shoe to fit the largest foot first. Go to a shoe store that will measure both feet and wear the type of socks you will use for the specific activity of the shoe.
  3.  Select shoes that match the shape of your foot. If your foot shape matches your shoe shape then you are on the right track to a good shoe fit.
  4.  When you shop for shoes try on various types and styles. Judge shoes by how they fit your feet. Be careful not to select any style that feels too tight, too loose, or irritates any part of your foot. If shoes feel too snug or too loose at the try-on state, your feet will likely hurt later on.
  5.  Shoes should be as wide as your feet, and longer. When shoes contact the ground during walking or running, your feet will elongate. Allow some adequate space (3/8 to ½) at the end of the shoe beyond your longest toe.
  6.  Make sure the widest part of your foot (the ball) fits comfortably into the widest part of the shoe. This match permits shoes to bend where your feet flex and will give you a more functional and more comfortable wearing experience.
  7.  Heels should fit comfortably in the shoes. Don’t buy shoes too small just to avoid slippage of the heel. If your foot has excess slippage in the heel of the shoe, try a different shoe, or ask your shoe fitter to make minor adjustments.
  8.  Choose shoes appropriate for the activity AND the time that you perform that activity. Feet change shape and size during the day AND under different conditions: after exercise, in warm weather, with weight gain, or from sitting or standing. When shoe shopping, remember that your feet are generally larger after an activity than preceding it, so buy accordingly. On occasions where dress shoes must be worn, limit excessive walking. Lace-up shoes offer more support than slip on shoes.
  9.  Walk in the shoes to make sure it feels comfortable. No need to do a marathon run while trying on shoes, but at least take a walk around the store. Shoes express your fashion sense and affect your health and activities. So choose wisely.
  10.  Replace footwear as required. Factors such as activity level, walking surfaces, and weight, will affect the life of your footwear.
  11.  Support. The arch area of the shoe should be strong and supportive, it should never bend. You should not be able to compress the heel counter (back of the shoe) or easily twist the shoe.  Shop at shoe stores that offer full service, including good size and width selections and staff that are trained in proper shoe fit.
What determines a shoes ability to protect and perform?

What Determines a Shoe’s Ability to Protect and Perform?

There are six major factors that will impact a shoe’s performance:

  • Construction. Techniques: slip lasting, injection molding, stitching, welting, and cementing create differences in a shoe that will not show to the average person. Quality of construction should be a consideration.
  • Materials. The components of a shoe affect its firmness, flexibility, breath-ability, weight and ultimate functionality.
  • Heel height. When walking barefoot, the heel normally rises about 2 inches during each step; the front of the foot provides the push-off motion that propels the next step. In a flat-heeled shoe the heel continues to rise naturally, and the foot gives a normal push-off. In a higher-heeled shoe, natural movement is altered. The initial effect is redistribution of weight; an enormous amount of pressure is redistributed onto the forefoot, affecting the ability of the toes to push off and changing a person’s gait. With long-term usage, higher heels also have a ripple effect on the upper body so that pressures on the feet will create pressures on upper joints, muscles and tendons.
  • Shoe shape. The shoe’s shape must match the foot shape. Otherwise, discomfort and eventually damage are likely to result.
  • Foot characteristics. Feet lengthen, shorten, expand and contract during motion, thousands of times a day. They also get longer and broader as people get older. But while your feet change continuously, your shoes don’t. That’s what makes it important to get your feet measured each time you shop for shoes; it provides the salesperson with a baseline that allows him/her to match your foot’s characteristics with shoes designed for those characteristics. Foot length, width, girth, arch height and natural padding are all factors. So is the activity for which you are buying the shoes.
  • Shoe fit. Shoe sizes are not standardized which means a shoe labeled size 8 by one manufacturer will be very different from ones that other manufacturers call size 8. This is because shoes are built on models  and a model’s dimensions are proprietary information by manufacturer – it is no an industry-wide standard. What is standard about size is the difference between a whole size and a half-size: one-third of an inch. Be prepared to shop for shoes within a small size range – if you wear a size 8 in one brand, you might need a 7 ½ or 8 ½ in another brand.
Meeting individual needs

Meeting Individual Needs

As no single type of footwear is appropriate to every activity and most people find that their footwear needs including shoes, orthotics and hose or socks will vary according to their activities and performance levels. Shoes designed for office wear are probably not sufficient to support feet through a long afternoon at the shopping mall. Similarly, orthoses designed for a basketball player provide a different kind of support than orthoses for a tennis player.