Dear stiletto addicts, yes heels do bring us closer to heaven! But we also know that the amount of pain they sometimes put us through can bring us closer to the “other side”…
If you think about it, the constant pounding from all that walking coupled with suffocating, ill-fitting shoes mean we really put our feet through a lot of stress! The pain we heel addicts sometimes go through is unmentionable. And yet we all somehow envision walking through the park with our grandkids when we’re 70 going on 80 with no feet issues at all!
If you’re like me and already have pain somewhere in your feet, chances are you’re not wearing the right footwear and they might actually be causing permanent harm to your feet.
So let’s take a “step” back and ensure that our feet can and will take us to all our favourite places with our loved ones in the near and far future! This is what you can do:
1. Understand why foot health is important
Your feet have a fair bit going on all day every day, so when you start feeling pain, it’s a reminder to stop and take note of what’s going on down below. Don’t let their distance from your internal organs fool you – foot problems might be the result of other potential health issues.
In general, unhealthy feet could lead to restricted day-to-day movement and affect blood circulation, but there are also problems like heal pain which could be a sign of plantar fasciitis – the straining of the ligament that supports your arch and connects the heel bone to the toes – which results in painful heels. And bunion pain for example? This could be a sign of bone structure deterioration in your foot.
So take note of the pain you feel, find out how to fix the issue and consult a doctor if daily movement like running and walking is affected!
2. Get Your Feet Checked Out!
Most of us have probably never done this before, but why not get your feet checked out and finally figure out how to fix that pain or weird bump that appeared a few months ago?
You can actually get a free foot examination at Dr. Kong – which is located in both East (Changi City Point) and West (Causeway Point) of Singapore. They provide an innovative “Check & Fit” foot examination that even includes an insole fitting service!
Their staff have been trained by certified Orthotists from Orthopaedia – Singapore’s only private Orthotic Centre. Trained to conduct proper foot assessments, staff at Dr. Kong are able to identify problems such as bow leg, knock knees, hallux valgus and other common issues, along with the best types of shoes that fit your needs. They are also equipped to recommend the right shoes, foot care products, tips and exercises according to your foot health.
3. Are you flat-footed?
Next, identify if you are flat-footed or not. Some of the pain you might have experienced might be a result of it and you’ll be able to find out after a foot assessment.
Being flat-footed or mildly flat-footed is common, and unfortunately, can result in tired feet, pain at the bottom of the feet, and other foot problems.
Why do these issues happen to the flat-footed species? Well, the arches in the feet act like springs when we walk and are responsible for shock absorption and propulsion. They also help to support the weight of your body. If you are flat-footed, perhaps consulting Dr. Kong to get a good recommendation on the types of shoes you should wear might also be a good idea.
4. FYI, it’s not normal.
Are you experiencing any of these common issues? Time to stop ignoring them.
- Knee Pain
This may be caused by knee-joint degeneration or flat-feet. In general, getting a shock-absorbing insole in your shoe will reduce the pressure on your knee. Also, make sure you are conscious of your sitting posture at the desk, and avoid squatting and kneeling as these actions hurt the knee joints.
- Heel Pain
There are multiple reasons why your heels hurt, flat feet, wearing improper shoes, or walking and standing for too long might be a few. Again, a shock-absorbing insole will help to reduce pressure on the heel. So, consider wearing shoes with a 1 inch heel height to distribute some pressure off the heel for pain relief.
- Claw Toe
Your toes are bent upwards or downwards, which start to harden if not corrected. It is caused by wearing very tight or loose shoes, or by certain diseases like diabetes or alcoholism. Try to splint or tape your toes into the correct position and wear shoes that are soft with generous toe-room space. Toe exercises and stretches also help, like picking up a towel with your toes.
- Flat Feet
Your feet has lower or collapsed arches. This is hereditary and wearing proper footwear with supportive insoles will help provide the arch and heel area support.
- Hallux Valgus (a.k.a Bunion)
The bone or tissue around the joint of your big toe is enlarged and can even be painful. This means your big toe is out of alignment and starts pointing towards the second toe. It is either hereditary or caused by wearing high-heels or pointed shoes too often. Wearing a toe separator in the day and when you sleep might help to realign your toes.
- Plantar Fascitis
This is one of the reasons you might feel pain in your heel. It is the overstretching of the ligament Plantar Fascia (the tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes) due to causes like flat feet, wearing worn-out shoes or prolonged walking and standing.
- Callux and Corn
Caused by prolonged pressure and friction from ill-fitting shoes, by wearing hard-soled shoes or wearing shoes with narrow toe boxes.
- Athlete’s Foot
To avoid sweaty or smelly feet, Dr. Kong recommends not wearing the same shoes all the time. Tricks to fresh feet are to let your shoes air before wearing them again. You can also wear cotton or wool sock as they do not trap moisture or take out the insole of your shoes to air regularly.
*If you experience any severe discomfort and pain, it is best to consult your doctor.
5. Invest in a good pair of shoes
The most important thing you can do for your feet and avoid the issues mentioned above, is to invest in a pair of shoes with good arch and heel support.
You can find shoes that are great for everyday use and are designed to protect your feet at Dr. Kong too. The insole of their products are designed to help prevent the accumulation or worsening of your foot problems, and even help reduce and relieve pain in your feet.
6. What’s the ideal shoe?
- 1 inch-heel height
Experts at Dr. Kong recommend that you should get shoes with a 1 inch heel height to reduce pressure on your heels, especially for those experiencing heel pain.
- Arch support
Make sure it has arch support which redistributes pressure evenly along the bottom of your foot.
Wear shoes with metatarsal (the bones located in the middle of your foot) pads which helps to shift the pressure from the forefoot to the rear of the foot.
Make sure the front of the shoe can be flexed easily for easy and comfortable walking.
7. Heels to avoid
Wearing high heels can cause overworked muscles and a number of foot injuries, but if you really have to wear them, avoid wearing heels with the following features:
- Narrow toe boxes
This will cause hallux valgus (bunions). Bunions will grow in size on outer edges of your big toe and will cause pain if left unresolved. If you already have bunions or corns, you should try to get bunion or corn protectors to help relieve the pressure and pain. If you find that you have wide front feet, you can find shoes designed with a wider front shoe section at Dr. Kong! Their shoes come in 2E, 3E and 4E.
- Uncomfortable heels
This may be obvious but a number of women actually persevere through the pain and continue wearing their heels anyways. Dr. Kong says if you feel discomfort or pain wearing a certain pair, stop wearing them!
- Tight fitting heels
Avoid wearing tight fitting shoes and go for shoes with a wider fit with a wider toe box.
- Fore-foot pressure
Avoid wearing heels that put too much pressure on the forefoot. Yes, this means you should give your feet a break from heels after prolonged periods of time in heels!
8. Strengthen Your Feet at the Desk
Experts recommend doing exercises like jumping and tip toeing (with proper shoe support) to help strengthen your leg and foot muscles and even relieve pain.
a. Standing Thigh Stretch
Put your right hand on the wall, pull your left foot backwards with the left hand until you feel a stretch down the front of your thigh muscle. Hold for 10 seconds and switch legs. Repeat 10 times per side.
Benefit: Relieves knee pain by stretching tensed thigh muscles.
b. Seated Thigh Stretch
While sitting, extend your leg forward and point your toes. Hold for 5 seconds per leg, repeat 10 times per leg.
Benefit: Protects knee joints.
c. Seated Toe Exercise
Remain in a normal sitting position on your chair. With both feet on the ground, point your toes upward and then relax. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
Benefits: Enhances blood circulation in your toes.
d. Standing Calf Stretch
Stand facing a wall with both hands pushing against wall. Bend your front leg and straighten back leg until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times on each side.
Benefits: Relieves tension in calf muscles.
e. Plantar Fascia Stretching Exercise
Sit on a chair with right foot resting on your left knee. Use your hands to pull your toes toward your body until you feel a stretch on the bottom of your foot. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on both sides, 10 times daily.
Benefits: Helps to relax the Plantar Fascia muscle and relief pain at the bottom of your foot.
9. The Controversial Flip-Flop
Ah yes, the good old flip-flop. Every Singaporean has at least two pairs lying around the house!
Some people say that wearing flip-flops are good for your feet as they help to exercise your toe muscles.
According to Dr. Kong, flip-flops aren’t necessarily bad for your feet, but they still recommend that the best footwear to prevent injury and pain are shoes with good arch and heel support! Shoes like these will actually reduce the pain and slow down the deterioration of your feet.
Flip flops also lack a heel-counter, which is the hard insert at the back of the shoe that supports your heels. Consider getting shoes with a higher and harder heel counter to provide support and maintain proper alignment of your feet and heels.
10. Common Mistakes We Should All Stop Doing Now
- Wearing pointed shoes
These cause bunions and bunion pain. If you really love your pointy shoes, do not wear them for long periods at a time.
- Wearing uncomfortable shoes, especially heels
It is important to give your feet a rest. Perhaps leaving a pair of flats at your desk or in your bag to change into would provide much-needed relief!
- Wearing new shoes for prolonged periods of time
Let your feet get use to new shoes slowly. Break into them by wearing them for only 1 to 2 hours a day for the first few weeks.
In some ways, our feet symbolically and physically carry our weight everywhere we go. From walking with our kids to the mall to doing your favourite sports, we really depend on them. So take good care of your feet and get back the spring in your step!
Exclusive Promotion from Dr Kong!
Exclusively for PlusPoint readers only, present this article to the staff at Dr Kong and get a free pack of socks (2 pairs) worth $15 with any regular shoe purchase in a single receipt from 15 – 31 August 2016.