Dr. William Knudson often deals with patients who have spent many years forcing their feet into fashionable shoes. To those patients, the Leesburg podiatrist gives a number of tips, stressing that well-fitting shoes that promote foot health do not have to be unattractive. The important thing, according to Dr. Knudson, is that the shoe allows the foot to comfortably exist in its natural shape.

The first place I like to begin with my patients is to remind them about the pressure the human foot endures each day. The average person takes 5,000-7,000 steps per day, and your foot absorbs much of the impact of these steps. This is why proper footwear is so important. Walking only one mile, which averages out to only 2,000 steps, puts 63 tons of pressure on each foot, and this doesn’t include the extra pressure induced by high-impact sports like running, tennis, or basketball.

When it comes to proper-fitting shoes, what is best for one patient isn’t best for another. Shoes should fit an individual person’s strike and arch. The arch is the amount of lift in the middle of a person’s foot, and the best way to determine arch is to wet your feet and step on dry concrete. Examine that footprint and look at the center of the foot. If it’s thin, that determines a good arch but if it’s thick in the middle, it may be a sign of a fallen arch. I recommend seeing a podiatrist if you believe your arches may have fallen.

“Strike” is the way the foot falls when you walk. Strike is a little harder to determine but it can best be seen by looking at a worn shoe in your closet. If the shoe wears more on the outside, the foot may be described as supinated. Inside wear may lead to a pronation diagnosis. If one of our patients at Podiatric Care of Northern Virginia suffers pronation or supination, we can recommend footwear. There are also orthotic shoe inserts that can be used with any shoes.

It’s equally important that our patients find footwear that fits. While some may be tempted to buy shoes that are a half a size larger, we emphasize the importance of shoes that support the foot. There should only be a half an inch of space at the front of the shoe, and the heel should fit snugly without moving around. Not only do properly-fitting shoes promote foot health, they encourage the wearer to be more active, which improves the overall health of the wearer.

Keeping these tips in mind, as you head out to shop for shoes, you’ll be looking out for your foot health. By choosing high-quality shoes, you’ll find your shoes last far longer, meaning you’ll have to shop for shoes far less often. This can be good news for those who find the shoe-shopping experience less than savory.