For Relief From Foot Pain
Shoes May Be The Answer

In trying to combat foot pain shoes are a critical treatment component. Shoe selection can be the deciding factor in whether foot joint pain continues or improves. Knowing what to look for is the first step in making a good shoe choice.

Pronate, Supinate or Neutral?

Not all shoes are created the same because not all feet are the same. And foot type has a significant impact on potential foot conditions. There are three basic foot types: neutral, supinated, and pronated.

A neutral foot is just likes it sounds, in the middle.

A pronated foot is one that is overly flexible and flattens out with standing and walking. The ankle ‘falls in’ and the arch flattens. Most often the foot also rotates out so that it is easy to see the lateral toes from behind. In addition, the heel bone also looks as if it falls inward. The pronated foot is the most common and is associated with many foot issues.

foot pronation

The supinated foot is just the opposite; it is a rigid, inflexible foot. In standing it will appear as if there is a high arch. From behind the heel will be more upright and the outside toes are generally not visible.

foot suppination

Shoe components

In addition to size and style and of course color, there are few main components to evaluate when selecting a shoe: the heel counter, shoe last, and toe box.

shoe diagram

The heel counter is the aspect of the shoe just above the heel or back of the shoe. For people that pronate, the heel counter must be very stiff. For those that supinate, the heel counter needs to be more flexible and giving. To test the heel counter, simply squeeze the back of the shoe to determine how much give it has.

shoe heel counter

The second aspect to evaluate is the last or sole of the shoe. For the pronated foot, a straighter last is best. The straighter last will add stability to the more flexible pronated foot. For a more supinated foot, a curved last is best. A curved last will allow for greater mobility which is helpful to the more rigid supinated foot. A neutral foot will do well with the semi-curved.

shoe last

Finally, the toe box should be a consideration in selecting a shoe. A more flexible foot will generally require a wider toe box as the flexible foot will need room to spread. For those suffering from bunion pain , avoid a more narrow or pointed toe box.

shoe toe box

Ask an expert

If you happen to have a good local shoe store with experienced staff, consider having them evaluate your foot type and make recommendations. Good running shoe stores generally have more experienced staff.

Unfortunately, general foot pain shoes do not exist. Selecting the right brand of shoe for your foot type can make a difference with your foot pain.

Although all shoe companies offer a variety of shoes that can serve many needs, certain shoe companies have specific strengths. Nike has a tendency of offering shoes that have more cushioning. These shoes would be more appropriate for the more rigid, supinated foot. New balance, Brooks, and Asics have a tendency of offering more options for the prontated foot, with the shoes often termed “motion control” or “stability”.

Shoe Changes

One of the classic errors in providing good shoe support is wearing shoes too long. Often shoes are replaced when they look worn. This is not the best way to determine if a shoe is providing protection. A general rule of thumb is to replace your shoes every 500 miles or six months, whatever comes first. This is especially true if the shoes are worn on a daily basis. Don’t use the look of the shoe to decide if it’s time to replace them.

What About Shoe Inserts?

Even with good shoes, sometimes the support provided is not enough. What about shoe inserts or orthotics? Shoe inserts can often be a good choice for support, especially if wearing a less supportive or dressy shoe. Shoe inserts and orthotics can come in narrow sizes that allow them to be worn with dressy shoes.

One of the drawbacks to custom orthotics is the cost. Custom orthotics can be expensive, are rarely covered by insurance, and over time should be modified and updated as your feet change. Over the counter shoe inserts, like Superfeet, are a great cost effective alternative. In addition, over the counter inserts can be effective in providing sufficient support to reduce foot pain.


• In helping to relieve foot pain shoes are an essential treatment component.

• Foot types include neutral, pronated, and supinated.

• Match your foot type with key shoe components including the heel counter, shoe last, and toe box.

• As important as it is to choose the right shoe, it is as important to not wear shoes too long.

In treating and preventing foot pain shoes are invaluable. Understand how your foot type could be contributing to your foot joint pain. Use the information to help you make wise choices. Your feet will love you for it.

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