Getting up early and walking at sunrise is one of my favorite things to do. I head east and usually start off running. Once I reach a steep hill, I start to walk and soak in the first rays of red light for some free red-light therapy. God’s Magnificence! I wish everyone would experience this, but there are many excuses for why they don’t: I’m not getting up before dawn, it’s too cold, I’m too tired, and my feet hurt!
Foot Pain From the Pandemic
Foot pain is a problem for many people, but after the various lockdowns, it became part of a new pandemic. People stayed indoors and avoided outdoor activities. By the time they decided to go back to their exercise routine, it felt like starting from scratch, and of those who did, many never made it back to their pre-pandemic level. Some never even tried. It’s not easy!
Meanwhile, we stopped wearing shoes because we were at home most of the time. People were at home in slippers, sandals, socks, or simply barefoot all day. Add to that the fact that many of us dealt with our pandemic-related boredom and anxieties by eating. Lack of exercise and increased caloric intake led to increased obesity, medical issues, and, ultimately, inflammation. All of these things make exercise more difficult. Did you know that fat cells carry all of the toxins that lead to inflammation? It’s a vicious cycle.
Get Started With a Healthy Walking Routine
So how do we get out of this unhealthy cycle? Let’s start with shoes, specifically athletic shoes. The ideal athletic shoe is a running shoe. I recommend these even if you’re not a runner and all you’re doing is wearing the shoes inside your house. Running shoes are lightweight, more cushioned, and have diverse colors and styles. Companies make different running shoes for people with flat feet versus high arches. Ideally, you should buy your shoes at a specialty running shoe store, where the employees can help you choose the right shoe for your foot type and gait. These stores usually have 3D scanners to scan your feet and can digitally obtain your foot size, width, and shape. They also perform gait analysis using treadmills and/or digital gait plates. With these analyses, the computer can choose three to four different shoe models that should work for your feet. You should consider going up ½ size bigger than your sandal size or what the 3D scanner tells you, especially if you are considering an orthotic. This will ensure your toes have plenty of room in the toe box of the shoe, avoiding blisters, nail trauma, and numbness due to swelling after walking or running for a while.
Choosing The Best Shoes For Walking
Choose the shoe that fits you the best with your desired level of cushioning. Some prefer more cushion, and some prefer a firmer ride, there’s no wrong answer. Some shoes have a higher stack height (cushion), and many come with a rocker bottom outsole. Generally, people with heel pain benefit from running shoes with a greater amount of cushion (higher stack height), and people with pain on the ball of their feet benefit from a rocker bottom shoe. But that’s not always the case. I take many things into consideration when I evaluate my patient’s feet, and I can help figure out what’s best for you based on your foot problem.
Bring on the shoe inserts and orthotics! These are insoles that can replace the thin layer insole that come with your running shoes. They can be pre-fabricated (over-the-counter), which you can find at a specialty shoe store, a podiatry office, or online. Avoid inserts from the pharmacy! It’s always a good idea to have an expert fit you and help you choose them.