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SHOES FOR PROPER FOOT ALIGNMENT: WHAT TO LOOK FOR

foot alignment shoes

‘Proper foot alignment’ means the natural position and alignment of the bones, joints, and muscles in the feet. Shoes can both help and hinder proper foot alignment, depending on the style you choose.

Maintaining proper foot alignment is important for overall foot health, as well as for preventing or managing various foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, or knee pain. It is, however, worth noting that individual foot structure and mechanics can vary, and what may be considered proper alignment for one person may differ slightly for another. 

What is proper foot alignment?

What exactly does ‘proper foot alignment’ mean anyway? Think of it s the most neutral and natural position of a healthy foot. 

Neutral position

The foot's neutral position is when the arch is slightly raised off the ground, the heel is straight, and the foot is neither rolled inward (pronation) nor rolled outward (supination). In this position, the weight is evenly distributed across the foot.

Good arch support

The foot has three arches: The medial longitudinal arch (along the inner side of the foot), the lateral longitudinal arch (along the outer side), and the transverse arch (across the midfoot). Proper alignment ensures that these arches are well-supported and maintain their natural shape.

Ankle alignment

The ankle joint should be aligned vertically with the leg, allowing for proper weight distribution and stability during movement. It shouldn’t roll excessively inward or outward.

Balanced pressure distribution

Proper alignment ensures that the weight is evenly distributed across the entire foot, with no excessive pressure on specific areas. This helps prevent discomfort, pain, and the development of foot conditions.

Toe alignment

The toes should be straight and properly aligned. They should not be crowded or overlapping, which can lead to issues like bunions or hammertoes.

Stable heel

The heel should be stable and aligned with the rest of the foot. It should not tilt or collapse inward or outward.

Efficient gait

Proper foot alignment supports an efficient and natural walking or running gait. It allows for smooth and balanced movement, reducing the risk of injuries or overuse problems.

What could cause issues with feet alignment?

Several factors can contribute to foot alignment problems. Here are some common causes:

Genetics

Foot alignment can be influenced by your inherited foot structure. Certain foot types, such as flat feet (low arches) or high arches, can predispose individuals to alignment issues.

Improper footwear

Wearing shoes that lack proper support or have a narrow toe box can disrupt foot alignment over time. High heels, for example, can alter the natural position of the foot and increase the risk of alignment problems.

Weak muscles and ligaments

Weakness or imbalance in the muscles and ligaments of the feet and ankles can lead to poor alignment. Weakness in the arch-supporting muscles or tightness in the calf muscles can affect foot position and stability.

Overuse or trauma, including plantar fasciitis

Repeated stress or trauma to the feet, such as excessive running or sports activities, can impact foot alignment. Injuries like ankle sprains or fractures can also cause misalignment.

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition that involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes. It is one of the most frequent causes of heel pain.

Aging

As we age, natural changes occur in the feet, including loss of muscle strength and elasticity. This can contribute to changes in foot alignment and the development of alignment problems.

Weight gain

Carrying excess body weight puts increased pressure on the feet and can lead to altered foot alignment. It can exacerbate existing alignment issues or contribute to the development of new problems.

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, hormonal changes can cause ligaments in the body, including those in the feet, to become more relaxed. This can lead to temporary changes in foot alignment and the development of conditions like flat feet or overpronation.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, or neurological disorders, can affect foot alignment. These conditions can lead to changes in muscle strength, joint function, or nerve control, impacting foot position and alignment.

It's important to note that some people may be more prone to foot alignment problems. If you experience persistent foot pain, discomfort, or noticeable changes in foot alignment, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist, who can evaluate your specific situation, provide a diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment or interventions.

7 things to look for in shoes to support proper foot alignment

When it comes to proper foot alignment, it's important to choose shoes that provide adequate support and stability. Here are some features to look for in shoes that promote proper foot alignment:

1. Built-in arch support

Look for shoes with proper arch support. This helps maintain the natural alignment of your feet and reduces excessive pronation (rolling inward) or supination (rolling outward) of the foot.

2. Cushioning

Opt for shoes with sufficient cushioning to absorb shock and reduce the impact on your feet and joints. Cushioning can help prevent overpronation and provide added comfort.

3. Heel support

A firm and supportive heel counter (the back part of the shoe that cups the heel) helps stabilize the foot and promotes proper alignment. It should hold your heel securely without excessive slippage.

4. Wide toe box

Shoes with a wide toe box allow your toes to spread naturally and prevent crowding. This helps maintain proper alignment of the toes and can reduce the risk of developing foot problems like bunions or hammertoes.

5. Firm sole

A shoe with a firm sole provides stability and support for your feet. Avoid shoes with very flexible soles, as they may not offer enough support for proper alignment.

6. Correct sizing

Ensure that you wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes that are too tight or too loose can disrupt proper foot alignment. Measure your feet regularly, as foot size and shape can change over time.

7. Pronation control

If you have excessive pronation or supination, you may benefit from shoes with specialized features like medial (inner) support for overpronation or lateral (outer) support for supination. These features can help guide your foot into a more neutral position.

It's worth noting that individual foot anatomy and specific foot conditions may require additional considerations. If you have any specific foot issues or concerns, it's best to consult with a podiatrist or footwear specialist who can provide personalized recommendations for your foot alignment needs.

Good shoe choices for proper foot alignment

When choosing shoes for foot alignment problems, prioritize features that promote proper foot alignment, stability, and support. Here are some types of shoes (or shoe inserts) that are generally recommended for individuals with foot alignment issues:

Walking shoes

Walking shoes are a good choice for individuals with foot alignment problems. They are specifically designed to provide comfort, support, and stability during walking activities, which makes them suitable for many people with foot alignment issues. 

Walking shoes typically have a supportive midsole that helps maintain proper foot alignment. They generally feature cushioning and stability features to provide support to the arches and reduce excessive pronation.

While walking shoes can be a suitable option for many individuals with foot alignment problems, it's essential to consider your specific needs and any recommendations from a healthcare professional. If you have severe foot alignment issues or require specialized support, custom orthotics, or specific shoe modifications, consulting with a podiatrist or footwear specialist can help guide you toward the most appropriate footwear for your condition.

Athletic shoes

Athletic shoes - like running shoes or cross-training shoes - are generally considered a good choice for people with foot alignment issues. They're designed to provide support and stability. 

Trainers and running shoes normally have supportive midsoles, cushioning, and structured support systems that promote proper foot alignment and reduce excessive pronation. They are also designed to absorb impact and provide shock absorption, which helps reduce stress on the feet and lower extremities when walking and running. 

This can make them a solid option for people with foot alignment issues or who suffer from foot pain.

Orthopedic shoes

Orthopedic shoes are specially designed supportive shoes that are intended to provide therapeutic benefits and support for individuals with various foot conditions or specific orthopedic needs. They are crafted to accommodate unique foot shapes, provide extra support, alleviate discomfort, and promote proper foot alignment. Although they sometimes have a reputation for being less than stylish, there are increasingly cute orthopedic shoes available.

Orthotic inserts

Having a hard time fining stylish orthopedic shoes? Not ready to give up on your favorite shoes? Orthotic inserts (also known as orthotics or shoe inserts) are specially designed devices that are placed inside shoes to provide additional support, correct foot mechanics, and improve foot alignment. They can be either custom-made or bought over the counter.

Orthotics can provide customized arch support tailored to your foot's unique needs. They help maintain the natural arches of the foot, distribute pressure more evenly, and reduce strain on the plantar fascia, promoting better alignment and reducing discomfort.

Recovery shoes

Recovery shoes, also known as post-workout or post-activity shoes, are footwear specifically designed to support the recovery process after physical exercise or strenuous activities, including standing all day at work. 

These shoes aim to provide comfort, cushioning, and support to the feet and lower limbs, helping to alleviate muscle fatigue, promote circulation, and facilitate the body's natural recovery mechanisms. Active recovery shoes typically have certain features that set them apart from regular athletic shoes or casual footwear. 

Discover Kane Recovery Shoes!

Kane's recovery shoes provide excellent support, comfort, and durability for those in need of top-notch recuperative footwear. Featuring an adjustable hook-and-loop single strap synthetic upper, plush TPR footbed as well as a durable injected EVA outsole, these kicks come with all the right features to assist you during your rehabilitation journey.

Aside from providing quality products, they are also committed to sustainability having made plans to become a B Corp while dedicating 1% of their overall profits towards environmental charities.

When and how to wear Kane Revive

The best moment to wear most recovery shoes is directly after a strenuous physical activity such as running or exercising. This helps minimize inflammation and launch the healing process. To guarantee maximum comfort and effective recuperation, make sure that you are wearing your recovery footwear correctly by tying up laces securely for a snug fit around your feet.

When should you see a doctor about foot alignment problems?

If you're experiencing persistent or worsening foot alignment problems, we recommend consulting your healthcare provider. Here are some signs you might want to seek help:

You experience persistent pain

If you are experiencing ongoing foot pain, particularly if it interferes with your daily activities or quality of life, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional. Persistent pain could indicate an underlying foot condition or alignment issue requiring diagnosis and treatment.

When you have difficulty walking or standing

If you are having difficulty walking, standing, or bearing weight on your feet due to alignment problems, it is important to seek medical attention. This could indicate a more significant issue that requires evaluation and appropriate management.

You observe changes in foot structure

If you notice visible changes in the shape or alignment of your feet, such as a noticeable shift in arch height, development of bunions, or toe deformities, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional. These changes may warrant further investigation and intervention.

You have a limited range of motion 

If you are experiencing a restricted range of motion in your feet, ankles, or toes, or if you notice joint stiffness or locking, it is recommended to see a healthcare professional. This can indicate underlying foot or joint problems that require evaluation and appropriate treatment.

You experience recurring injuries or pain

If you are experiencing recurrent injuries or pain in your feet, ankles, or lower limbs, it is important to have a professional assessment. Frequent sprains, stress fractures, or repetitive strain injuries may be indicative of underlying foot alignment issues that need to be addressed.

Impaired function

If your foot alignment problems are affecting your ability to engage in daily activities, sports, or exercise, it is advisable to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can evaluate your condition, provide a diagnosis, and recommend appropriate interventions to restore function and prevent further complications.

When the obvious measures aren’t helping

If you have tried conservative measures, such as supportive footwear, orthotic inserts, stretching, and rest, but are still experiencing persistent foot alignment problems, we recommend you consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide further evaluation and consider other treatment options.

In general, if you have concerns about your foot alignment or are experiencing ongoing pain, discomfort, or functional limitations, it is best to seek the expertise of a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist. They can provide an accurate diagnosis, develop a personalized treatment plan, and guide you toward appropriate interventions to address your foot alignment problems.

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