Choosing Shoes for Foot Problems

Post by Sharon

Having a host of issues with my feet, I've come to learn a lot about choosing the right shoes for my three main problems: Achilles tendon tenderness and post-Achilles surgery, plantar fasciitis and numbness (piriformis syndrome - the muscle pushes on the nerves in the rear end), and high arches. Let me share what I've learned - 


There are two main issues with Achilles tendon problems. One of the issues is shoes cutting into the tendon. Sneakers are the worst culprit. I learned it as these new shoes (ASICS gel inserts) ordered online came to me with high stiff backs that push directly into the tendon. I got them for the gel inserts, but the back of the shoe was absolutely atrocious! I learned to try these ones on in person and also to try to use shoes that have either no back on them like mules - or ones with elastic straps like the blue heels below. 

On one side, I had the tendon reattached so the push-off on the ball of my foot is weak. The thing that takes the most direct hit for Achilles problems is the push-off. For this reason, do not wear flats. Wear a heel. Ideally, 1-1/2 to 2" is good. You need to pitch the foot forward. If you can't or you like shoes that are flat, get a good tall heel support to put inside. Some people call them "lifts" because folks use them to be taller. 

I am in the place in my life where I'm real about the shoe thing. I cannot wear flats at all. I can't even walk barefoot well without hobbling. Give me a 1-1/2" to 2" heel and I walk normally.

I also changed my workout routine to not do push-off exercise (walking) but instead using pushing exercise (elliptical). 


This became my special problem the moment I woke up from Achilles surgery. I thought at first that my Ace bandage was too tight. But, as I went through recovery, the foot felt like it was tight underneath, contracted. The only way I could sleep well was to sleep with my head at the foot of the bed and my feet pressed up against the headboard. I needed the bottom of the foot to make contact with something or it felt shriveled up and tight.

Inserts are your friend. Gel ones work well for me, but some people like the foam ones. Consider arch support, as well. The better your contact with your surface, the better. 

Each night I treat my feet to some Burt's Bees foot lotion and a gentle stretching massage, flexing and contracting the bottom of the foot while rubbing it along the plantar fascia. 


There are two issues with high arches. They are on top of the foot and underneath the foot.  On the top side, because you have a high arch, the top of your foot is elevated. 

If a shoe (like the one above) has tight straps that aren't loose enough, your foot is driven into the straps painfully. An elastic or fabric top often works better. Just be sure there is some give in the top of your shoe. 

Too many shoemakers do not allow extra height for high arches. Some shoes can be hard to get into because of the roof of the foot hitting the top of the shoe. 

I have to use a boot puller to wear slip on boots because the tall foot has to be shoved into the boot to get in. 

Given my three foot issues, this shoe above fails in two and passes in one. No arch support. Tight straps that aren't tall enough for high arch, but the back of the shoe has no strap so Achilles is happy.

This shoe (above) had excellent arch support. This is another issue with high arches. Without the support, your entire walk is off, you stress your body more than it needs to be stressed and often times create back pain issues. This one also had loose straps so there was plenty of room to get the foot into the shoe. The heel was ideal in height, and the sole had little ridges that felt good on my numb feet. It's rate I find a shoe that  does it all and when I do - well, I wear it constantly! Sadly, they don't list them on Amazon anymore or I'd get more in other colors.

If you have diabetic feet, the doctors will instruct you on what's key. The two things you most want to be careful of are wearing footwear all the time so you don't get cuts and injuries that become infected or step on something sharp. You also will want something that fits properly so your foot doesn't slide in and out of the shoe, rubbing the back of it and causing a callus. 

As I get rid of shoes that have tight straps and flat bottoms for things that support my three issues, I've become very aware of how precious the work is that feet do. I wear slippers at home 24/7 and also have some outdoor sandals that suit my needs. 

I've learned to take the time at night to massage down the feet with a good lotion and give them the attention they've earned. 

When shoe shopping you might look up things like "orthotic shoes," "diabetic shoes," and brands like Skechers, Drew Shoes, Vionic (great for arch support) Spenco, Propet. OluKai. 

Here's a few of my big winners - this flip-flop has amazing support and traction, super comfort, good height, and comes in a zillion colors and patterns. I have one pair I wear to death, but going to buy a few more. 

Above is a link to purchase on Amazon. They have other sandals by that maker too, but these are the only flip flops I will wear. Here's the fun pair below - going to get it in green and other colors too. 

Be honest with what shoes you barely get through an event wearing. Those, no matter how pretty, are going to be avoided. For a while, I stopped going to evening events because the black shoes I had weren't worth the blisters and pain. Finally, I found some Skechers (a brand that always works for me) and now I am back to saying "yes" to events.