Help me find the right shoes to fix my foot pain
January 30, 2013 8:37 AM   Subscribe

I've hod ongoing pain for months in my right foot, and after seeing a doctor and getting x-rays and and MRI done, the best advice he had for me was to buy new shoes and hope the pain eventually goes away. My question is, what sort of shoes am I looking for? I spend about an hour each day walking between classes, work, and my car—aside from that, I'm not terribly active. I'm also on somewhat of a budget, but if I need to pay $100 to not have to limp around, I'll gladly pay.
posted by reductiondesign to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What kind of pain, where, and when do you feel it?
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:45 AM on January 30, 2013

Response by poster: It comes and goes—some days there's no pain, and other days (like today) I can hardly walk. It hurts in the ankle and in the middle of the foot, on the outer side. It's a deep, internal pain. When walking, my foot lifting up to take a step (and bending towards my shin slightly, putting my weight onto the front of my foot) is what hurts most.
posted by reductiondesign at 8:48 AM on January 30, 2013

What kind of doctor did you see? Sports medicine? Orthopedic surgeon?
posted by hydrophonic at 8:54 AM on January 30, 2013

Response by poster: A sports medicine doctor, who then referred me to a podiatrist.
posted by reductiondesign at 8:56 AM on January 30, 2013

Did the podiatrist say you had high arches, flat feet, overpronation, etc.?

You can get shoes or inserts to help support your foot or correct various conditions but it will depend on your feet, your gait, etc.
posted by mountmccabe at 9:01 AM on January 30, 2013

Response by poster: All he mentioned was high arches.
posted by reductiondesign at 9:02 AM on January 30, 2013

Crocs can be very helpful for foot pain, and before you laugh they make some that look just like "normal" shoes and not just the fugly clogs you see around. My MIL has nerve pains in her feet from nerological problems and finds crocs the only shoes she can wear and I found them very comfortable when I hate plantar fasciitis. I have tried birkenstocks and danskos and keep coming back to the crocs for comfort.
posted by wwax at 9:06 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you get foot pain if you walk significant distances barefoot?

My gut reaction is that, if your doctors haven't found anything serious, your feet are probably just fed up with traditional shoes and you might want to try a more barefoot approach. This changes your entire gait as well as how your foot interacts with the ground. You could look into "kung-fu shoes" (google it) for a cheap alternative, or go to an athletic shoe store and have a look at their "barefoot style" shoes.

Barefoot style would be no heel offset and very little cushioning, which forces you to walk with a forefoot strike using a much more deliberate stride rather than pound-pound-pounding on the heel of usual Western footwear.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:10 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am surprised that the podiatrist did not prescribe orthotic insoles for you. They would certainly help with your pain. I don't think it's an easy task to figure out the type you need without a podiatrist's help, though -- there are so many kinds and often they need to be customized to your feet. Can you not go back for an appointment and get some insoles that will work for you. This is a commercial site, but I think the FAQ is helpful.
posted by Lescha at 9:15 AM on January 30, 2013

Yes, this is very strange. The podiatrist should have either made insoles for you or recommended a commercially available brand, based on what he saw of your foot. Honestly, I think you need a different podiatrist, because this is precisely the information they are supposed to give you.

By the way, I asked a question almost identical to yours a while ago on the Green, and everyone was super nice and helpful about it, and I got some recommendations... I bought a beautiful pair of Sofft shoes and wore them to work and literally they hurt me so terribly by the end of the day that I chucked them in the Dress For Success donation bin and wore fast flats home. You really can't get medically specific information on the Internet. Get a decent podiatrist.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:27 AM on January 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have some foot/bone issues. I tried Alegria shoes, and oh my! Changed my life. Very supportive, wide toe box and nice styles. I am a lady, but they do show mens' styles on their website, if that applies to you. They are freakishly expensive, and I am a total cheapskate, but the week after I got my first pair, I bought a second pair. Money well spent.
posted by LaBellaStella at 9:30 AM on January 30, 2013

My podiatrist recommended that I try Superfeet insoles before investing in custom orthotics. I bought them at EMS and they cut them to size. I move a couple of pairs among all of my shoes and they've helped a lot. A real lot.
posted by Breav at 9:32 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I agree with fingersandtoes that your podiatrist should have given you specific recommendations.

I have high arches and was recommended Brooks Glycerin shoes but I am sure there are many other options that may have been better (and maybe cheaper) and while these felt like walking on air for me they may not work for your feet.

Also useful for me have been Spenco orthotic arch supports (which I read about here on the Green), but, again, these may not work for you.
posted by mountmccabe at 10:14 AM on January 30, 2013

I have arthritis in my feet, which has led to hallus rigidus (next to no range of motion in the base of my big toe joint) and wear rolly-bottom (rocker sole) shoes almost exclusively, because they prevent my feet from bending but give me a pretty much normal stride. The late MBT company started the fad, but Skechers continued it and their Shape-Up line works well for athletic-ish walking shoes. When I need dress shoes, I look for shoes with rigid soles and a bit of a rocker bottom like Dansko (although I do not know if they make men's shoes).

I also developed some weird pain on the outer half of my right foot, and after a trip to the doctor who ruled out plantar fasciitis, arthritis, stress fracture, and anything else that can be seen on an X-ray, ended up making the jump to men's shoes, which are significantly wider than women's. Turns out the pressure on the sides of my feet with women's shoes laced up, even wide ones, was causing a huge chunk of the pain.

If you haven't already, try wide or extra-wide shoes and see if that changes your pain in any way. My doctor also recommends New Balance shoes for pretty much all problem feet, which would have been my next step if the men's Skechers didn't work out.

Welcome to the world of expensive shoes! Cheap shoes are no longer an option for me, alas, and I expect no longer for you.
posted by telophase at 10:58 AM on January 30, 2013

You should try stretching your calf muscles. I had random foot pain for the longest time and a podiatrist just had me start doing basic strechtes and they went away immediately. It may not work, but if it does ... Cheap solution!
posted by Unred at 11:46 AM on January 30, 2013

If your doctor didn't suggest physical therapy or orthotics, I think it's time to look for a second opinion.

Like Breav, I wear SuperFeet as a trial to see if it'd make sense to get custom orthotics. My sports doctor recommended which ones to get. I got them at a running store where the staff was also prepared to make recommendations, even though I'm not a runner.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:17 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely try physical therapy--I was having some foot problems as a side effect of spraining my ankle, and PT helped a HUGE amount.
That and Dansko sneakers instead of Converse.
posted by exceptinsects at 2:48 PM on January 30, 2013

Do you have any calluses on your foot? Maybe the pressure of the hard tissue is pressing into a nerve or a tendon.
posted by ayc200 at 9:12 PM on January 30, 2013

I had something very similar to this. I spent months going to doctors who found nothing. Turned out to be a dislocated cuboid bone which doesn't show up on x-rays, MRI's etc.

Just tossing this out there. Good luck.

Also, Born brand shoes have been a lifesaver for me.
posted by futz at 2:59 AM on January 31, 2013

I had similar issues (would walk a few feet sometimes and my feet would just "go out" from underneath me) and spent hundreds on shoes - MBTs (the one thing these do teach you is how to "roll" your foot when you walk, though--this is helpful), Merrills, etc.

On a trip where folks wanted to rock climb and with no climbing shoes on hand, I ran to the local K-Mart and picked up a pair of cheap work shoes with good treads (Safetrax Kiersten) and oh man, those things are amazing. Wore the same pair pretty much straight for 3 years, and just bought another pair last week (the old ones actually still look fine - but I was afraid they'd discontinue them). Work shoes work, go figure!

Crocs are also pretty good, too, if you get the size right. I'm not a big fan of the styles they've got, honestly, but being able to walk miles and miles without issue trumps all.
posted by jenh at 10:56 AM on January 31, 2013

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