My feet hurt
June 27, 2013 8:46 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for good sneakers to wear while exercising. I have high arches, small (size 6 women's) wide feet, and all the shoes I've tried don't stop the pain when I do lunges, jumping jacks, or yoga poses where I stand on one foot.

I currently own a pair of New Balance running shoes. I really like them for almost everything I wear them for: they're great for walking, suitable for a lot of exercise activities, and are actually very cute (I have them in black and pink).

It's when I have to do things that rely heavily on one foot - like side lunges or a few yoga poses - where the trouble starts. I get a lot of aching pains along the foot that bears the weight. I can't really pinpoint the problem area - it seems to be just wherever most of the weight is on the foot. Like, some poses, I can feel the weight is all on the outside of my foot, and that's where it hurts. Other times, I have to put weight on my heel, and then my heel hurts the same way. But it's difficult for me to really properly localize the pain. It hurts enough that I have to stop exercising for a few minutes when it happens, which is a bummer when you are trying to follow a DVD.

This has been a problem with many different shoes. I went to my local Feet Fleet and talked to them about the problem, and they told me I needed arch support. They recommended the above New Balances.

I've been wearing them for a year and I still have foot pain. It's not as bad as it was with some other shoes, but it's getting more severe as the shoes get older. I do moderate (35-60 minutes) exercise every day. I've been on a Brazil Butt Lift kick for about a year and I love the workouts, but the foot pain stops me from fully participating. This was also a problem with the 30-day Shred and with different shoes for both DVDs.

I have tried wearing Dr. Scholl's inserts and they don't help much at all. Sometimes they seem to make it worse.

Socks with arch supports definitely help - in fact, they're a necessity. Without them, even squats and things where I put weight on both feet are painful.

This can't be right - can it? What is my problem, and what shoes will enable me to exercise pain-free?
posted by k8lin to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried exercising without any shoes? Does that still cause pain? Sometimes it's that your feet and ankle muscles may need to get stronger, but the shoes prevent them from doing so.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:08 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I have tried not wearing shoes. That was impossible - too painful.

I should have also mentioned: I have finicky feet, and finding any shoes is hard. I have injured my feet wearing shoes that are too flat or unsupportive in the past - enough that I was on crutches for a week or so - just by walking in unsupportive shoes.
posted by k8lin at 9:18 PM on June 27, 2013

I can't recommend an exact shoe, but I will say that after a year, you might just need new sneakers. When I'm really training for races, I can start to feel my tendonitis flaring up at a certain point in their lifespan and it means the shoe is just breaking down. You also may want to talk to a sports doctor or a podiatrist to see if there are any exercises that you can do to strengthen the muscles of your feet themselves. You shouldn't have to deal with that much pain for routine yoga poses, or maybe there's another underlying issue that they can better diagnose than Fleet Feet. I know my feet used to be much stronger when I did ballet, and that greatly helped with my running form.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:25 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have you done specific foot-strengthening exercises? I don't have many to suggest, unfortunately, but it might help in general if you spend time specifically focusing on strengthening your feet. This might be something to consult an orthopedist/physical therapist about.
posted by brainmouse at 9:30 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you considered getting custom orthotics? They're an investment, but they can help with many of these issues when over-the-counter products aren't enough.
posted by quince at 9:32 PM on June 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah, orthotics, orthotics, orthotics. Go see a podiatrist.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:09 PM on June 27, 2013

Superfeet is a brand somewhere between a custom orthotic (which might or might not be covered by your health insurance) and drugstore junk. They run about $30 and they are what my orthopedist recommended as an alternative to custom ones. They sell them at REI and some comfort shoe stores; you'll need someone to advise you which to try, though.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:11 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would recommend trying Spenco "SpencoRX" orthotics that you can get fairly inexpensively and I've found provides a good amount of arch support. I also recommend Superfeet inserts (especially the lime-green model)--they add cushioning and lots of arch support.
posted by scalespace at 10:12 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing the thought that they're due to be replaced.

I've had surgery on a knee and ankle, get good, high-cushioning running shoes for walking and I can chart the decline in cushioning by how long I can walk before I start to feel some pain. After a couple-three months, the shoes are still in good shape and not bad for the cushioning, but there is a significant drop-off.

As people have noted, it varies so much from one person and shoe to the next. My feet, etc., are happy with Nike Lunar Glides and Asics Kinseis, and there are plenty of good shoes that -- for whatever reason -- don't work at all for me.
posted by ambient2 at 10:15 PM on June 27, 2013

Orthotics, but don't just buy some off the shelf. Go see a professional. The pain you're experiencing doesn't sound normal and you may be doing yourself some damage. I saw a podiatrist last year and it turned out I had a birth defect and should have been wearing special shoes since I was a child. Now my foot pain is gone and my posture is much improved, too.
posted by hazyjane at 10:19 PM on June 27, 2013

You should ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist. It sounds like you need to work on strengthening parts of your foot to help protect your nerves.
posted by samthemander at 10:45 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I don't want to threadsit, but I know that I need new shoes after a year of wearing these - and it sounds like I also need orthotics. However, the pain never went away, even with these shoes when they were new. I don't like spending money, and it's not like the pain is completely unbearable or constant, so I just held out until it was time for new shoes to address the issue.

Are there any good sneakers for people with wide, small feet that y'all can recommend for me to put my new inserts or orthotics into?
posted by k8lin at 12:57 AM on June 28, 2013

I had a similar problem in the past-- when I was bigger, my feet were wider and I had a pair of Reeboks that absolutely killed, especially after a while. They wouldn't hurt at first, but after about 20 minutes the sides of my feet would start to hurt. I also had a pair of Skechers, which I found clunky and heavy and also hurt after a while.

I switched to Nikes -- specifically Nike Shox -- and they helped me tremendously. No more pain. I am not sure how available they are now, but I think some stores still sell them. Mine are regular width, but I think they do wide widths too.
posted by Dimes at 1:17 AM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

You might want to try arch support sleeves. You can wear them any time, with or without shoes. And if they don't help, you're not out that much money.

Foot strengthening exercises can help, too. Picking up things with your toes works your arches! Also try scrunching your foot over a towel or blanket on the floor - try to bunch up the fabric under your foot.

And get orthotics/supportive shoes for work and casual wear, not just exercise. You need them just as much then.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:30 AM on June 28, 2013

Do see a podiatrist if you can - I had chronic pain in one foot I thought was due to walking too much, but it turns out I have Morton's neuroma and needed steroid injections into the nerve. Orthotics didn't help, nor did wearing different shoes.
posted by goo at 3:51 AM on June 28, 2013

Guy here, who has wider than average feet. Mine are not prone to pain the way yours are, but as far as a brand of athletic shoe that suits the proportions of my feet better than others: I swear by Saucony. Good foot support, and a variety of models that they manufacture in different widths. It's only anecdotal, but two or three women I know who were not satisfied with the fit of their running or cross-training shoes tried Sauconys on my suggestion and found a model that worked for them.
posted by fikri at 4:21 AM on June 28, 2013

I've had good luck with Saucony running shoes, but my Saucony Grid V2 cross trainers make my feet hurt doing DVD workouts like BBL or 30ds. Personally, I was happiest with my last pair of shoes, Asics cross trainers with super feet insoles. But what works for me is not necessarily going to work for you.
posted by Kriesa at 4:36 AM on June 28, 2013

Best answer: I have high arches and many gym shoes that work for other people don't work for me. I came by to second Superfeet inserts, which an orthopedist recommended to me. Go to a running store for advice on which to use. My local running store recommended the berry model to me. I have several pairs, and now I can be less choosy about gym shoes.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:08 AM on June 28, 2013

Is there a reason why you haven't been wearing cross-training shoes instead of running shoes (or fashionable street shoes)? I'd recommend getting a few proper cross trainers on Zappis and wear them around your house. Running shoes are absolutely not designed for lateral movements.

It sounds like you'd really benefit from a few sessions with a physio therapist. Feet shouldn't hurt this much and there might be some foot strengthening exercises which could help.

If you have really difficult feet, cute shouldn't be a high priority for exercise shoes.
posted by barnone at 5:39 AM on June 28, 2013

People keep recommending going to a running store and different running shoes. I haven't had good experience with getting cross-trainers at a running store. They always want you to buy running or walking shoes which might not be the solution for you.
posted by barnone at 5:41 AM on June 28, 2013

New Balance makes wider versions of their regular shoes, I think?

I also think it is time for you to consult with a podiatrist, you shouldn't have to deal with constant pain, especially in a hard-working every day area like your feet. Custom orthotics are pricey but IME are definitely worth it.

You might also want to ask about ankle-strengthening exercises that you can do with elastic bands. That will help prevent that "all the weight on the outside of my foot" situation you described. You want to make sure the muscles/tendons/whatevs on the inside and outside of your ankles are able to equalize weight-bearing.

In the interim you can try taping up your arches for support. There are many youtube videos which show you how to do this without hurting yourself further.
posted by elizardbits at 6:55 AM on June 28, 2013

Try tennis shoes, they are designed for lateral movement.
posted by fshgrl at 9:26 AM on June 28, 2013

Nike Pegasus work for my high arches, although now I wear custom orthotics in them.
posted by callmejay at 10:04 AM on June 28, 2013

From FootSmart custom orthotics are only $100.00 a pair. Non-custom ones by Abeo can run $70. But you might want to see a podiatrist anyway. Even if they can't help your foot pain directly, they might be able to tell you what's wrong and how to be as comfortable as possible.
posted by monopas at 11:17 AM on June 28, 2013

Best answer: I just looked at the actual shoes you've tried, and no wonder your feet hurt! Those are mostly lightweight running shoes or literally fashion sneakers. They have ZERO lateral support for cross training.

Try a few of these and see how they do at home:

ASICS Gel-Harmony - great lateral support and cushioning.

ASICS GEL-Express - come in wide

ECCO Sport Biom Train - great reviews

New Balance WX1012

Ryka Studio D - Ryka shoes are known for being great dance/aerobics/cross-trainers. They're not 'minimalist' shoes and might be good with a high arch.

Ryka Enhance

Ryka Capture

I'd order as many as your credit card can handle. Try them out for a few days at home, and keep a pair or two. Maybe do a workout video at home and see how they hold up. Keep in mind they'll be new and won't be broken in yet, but you should get an idea about fit.

As others had said, think about a pair of good orthotics or superfeet. The problem is that they don't always fit in your current shoes. You might want to order a pair of superfeet insoles with these shoes, so you can try the combo at home. They're a good compromise between crappy pharmacy insoles and expensive orthodics.
posted by barnone at 11:45 AM on June 28, 2013

I have smallish, wide feet with high arches, and I used to have problems similar to what you describe. Somewhat sadly, my magic shoes turned out to be Birkenstocks. I wear them all the time, except when I'm sleeping, and my feet are HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY. I quite hate the way they look, but they've made my life so much better I don't care. (If you try this, be aware that the arch support is so aggressive that they can hurt a bit for a few days before the AHHH sets in.)
posted by Corvid at 12:36 PM on June 28, 2013

My guess - without seeing you move - is that your foot is rolling out (supinate). That's fairly common for high arch people. For short-term you can certainly use arch sleeves, but long term you want to see a doctor and get orthotics.

Superfeet and most off the shelf shoe inserts are good for low arch people, but not the best for everyone. Arch sleeves and shoe inserts are only a temporary thing until you can see a podiatrist and get a real fix.

Corvid - My happy shoes are, oh the shame of it, Crocs. They are my go to for tootsie happiness.
posted by 26.2 at 1:28 PM on June 28, 2013

My feet do not measure as wide, but most women's sports shoes feel too narrow. I finally found some that feel good in the boys section. Bonus is that children's shoes cost less.
posted by Talia Devane at 7:37 AM on June 29, 2013

My wide feet like Brooks shoes. They have versions for arch support and others that are neutral shoes which work well with orthotics.

I tried everything from Dr Scholls to Superfeet to Happy Feet to some unbranded version sold at the state fair to custom orthotics made by a podiatrist who works part-time at the running store so he knows shoes as well as feet. None of that worked.

I'm using Ideal Feet inserts right now. About $200 but they are guaranteed for life. As my feet have changed, I've gone back in for another gait assessment and they give me a slightly different shape which works well for 6-12 months and then I go get a different one for free.
posted by CathyG at 10:35 AM on June 29, 2013

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