What Your Shoes Can Tell You About Your Foot Health

People often make footwear choices to express something about who they are as a person, but did you know your shoes can also provide clues about your foot health, too?

It’s true! Your feet can leave some significant impressions on the footwear they spend so much time in. If you know what to look for, you may find signs that could point toward certain conditions that may need to be addressed

In fact, we often recommend that patients suffering from heel pain and other problems bring a well worn pair of shoes with them to their appointment. They can provide us with some initial information before we even begin a full exam!

We’ll provide some tips on what to look for here. But before we do, it’s important to note that these clues only reveal a piece of the overall picture. They can be a good indication that something is going on that should be professionally evaluated, you should not rely on them solely for diagnosis.

Check the Wear of Your Soles

The soles of your shoes naturally wear down with use over time, but where they become most worn down can often tell you more about your motions as you walk.

For “normal” foot motion, we will tend to see most wear along the middle of the heel and the middle of the balls of the feet. Seeing just a bit more wear along the edges of the heel also tends to be fine, as feet naturally roll outward slightly during walking. A neutral wear pattern such as this is often indicative of a sound foot structure and an efficient stride.

If the feet roll too far inward, also known as overpronation, you will tend to see greater wear along the inside edge of the soles, especially along the inside heel and the inside upper part of the sole. You might also hear this referred to as “medial wear.” 

Overpronation is often linked to flat feet and fallen arches. These symptoms tend to increase one’s chances of plantar fasciitis 

If the feet roll too far outward, also known as supination or underpronation, you will tend to see greater wear along the outer edges of the soles, in the heel and toes. This wear pattern is also referred to as “lateral wear.” 

Supination is often related to having too rigid of a foot structure. You may have high arches, as well as a greater likelihood of suffering stress fractures due to how hard your foot is impacting the ground.

If you see lateral or medial wear on your soles, it does not necessarily mean you have a condition that will lead to any painful problems. Many people overpronate or supinate and do not suffer any ill effects from it. If there are no additional symptoms interfering with your life, then additional treatment will not be needed.

We do still recommend coming to us for an exam, though. Just because things feel fine now does not mean a problem won’t develop later. We can identify any potential risks for injury based on your foot structure and activities, and make any recommendations for preventative care if needed.

Check Inside Your Shoes

While typically not quite as easy to see as the outsides of your shoes, wear on the inside can also provide some clues about certain conditions.

If you have excessive wear or holes in the toe box or where the ball of your foot resides, that is evidence of excessive pressure being exerted there. This can also be caused by overpronation or supination. Excessive wear and damage within the toe area of the shoe may also be indicative of a developing forefoot problem such as bunions or hammertoes.

However, such wear can also be a sign that your shoes are too small. If you aren’t seeing or feeling similar symptoms in similar shoes, you might just need to get rid of that pair.

Bring Your Shoes in To Us

If you are seeing some out-of-the-ordinary wear on your shoes – or have any other foot and ankle symptoms you have concerns about – please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We can help you determine whether there is anything you need to address, and recommend the best route of doing so if there is.

In many cases where abnormal foot structures are causing trouble, we can recommend conditioning exercises to help strengthen you against vulnerabilities. We might also suggest custom orthotics as a means of providing your feet the exact amounts of cushioning and corrective support they need.

It might also be the case that your current selection of shoes just isn’t providing the support you need. If that is the case, we can recommend pairs that may better suit your situation.

Whether you are currently experiencing any pain or discomfort or are considering preventative measures, we will take the time to fully review your case, answer any questions you may have, and lead you toward effective care.

Schedule an appointment at our Chandler office by calling (480) 963-9000. If you prefer to reach out to us electronically instead, please fill out the contact form on this page and a member of our staff will reach out to you during our standard office hours.