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Sports Medicine

How can I go about solving my foot problems

07/07/2009

Question:

I am flat-footed, have a history of corns/callouses and occasionally have in-grown toenails. I have tried using arch supports like Dr. Scholl’s to help alleviate these problems, but nothing seems to be working. These problems increase tenfold when I am running or jogging. Even standing still on the job is rough.

What types of shoes and padding should I be looking for to help alleviate these issues? I can’t seem to get a straight answer from many trainers and such I know. I admit I sometimes just grab popular shoe brands like new balance and find them relatively comfortable. In other words, I sometimes go for cheaper rather than the best of the best.

Answer:

Since a person who is "flat-footed" is usually (but not always) a hyperpronator, the most appropriate footwear would be designed for a person who hyperpronates, which typically includes some degree of medial wedging (or, the medial portion of the shoe midsole has higher density/less compressibility compared to the lateral midsole) for enhanced medial longitudinal arch support, and also a shoe shape based on a "straight" or "semi-straight" last (model of the foot on which the shape of the shoe is based).

Shoe comfort is crucial: a shoe should feel comfortable at the time you try it on in the store, rather than hoping a less-than-comfortable shoe will become more comfortable once it becomes more "broken in" from wearing it. This comfort should be maintained when running in a pair of shoes on a hard surface, prior to purchasing (which running shoe stores will typically allow you to do, such as running outside around their building).

Proper shoe size (length and width) and design (as noted above), and also, proper sock size/design (padding, moisture wicking, etc.) should all be able to be determined by a knowledgeable running shoe sales person.

Sometimes a custom-fabricated pair of foot orthoses is necessary, should your problems persist despite the above suggestions, but before which you should be evaluated by a sports medicine physician, including possibly a Podiatrist.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University