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2021 PRI Recommended Shoe List

The new 2021 shoe list is out!! Why should you be excited about this?  

Being able to move through our busy lives without pain is one of the most important prerequisites to the enjoyment of life - to have the freedom to do what brings us joy. The team at Specialized Physical Therapy has several of the most experienced and skilled physical therapists in the region. One of the most common recommendations of this special team of experts is the importance of wearing good, supportive shoes that will provide guidance for optimal postural alignment, mobility and stability when we spend time on our feet (which is the majority of our day for most of us!).   

How do you choose your footwear? What do you consider when buying shoes? Do your shoes provide protection for your feet, or are they mostly a fashion statement? Would you choose shoes that provide support for your legs, spine and body?  If you are unlucky enough to have foot, knee, hip or spine pain, the shoes you choose for your feet will have a BIG impact on your pain levels and success with correcting these problems.   

According to the experts in Postural Restoration, the type of shoe we wear can make or break our interaction with the ground and how we feel during our daily activities.  Shoes vary dramatically in how they are made. Some are very thin and do not have much support. Some are overly stiff and do not allow us to feel the ground effectively. Shoes can be categorized like cars. Within the same name brand, the manufacturer can offer shoes of basic design to a more sophisticated design.  

Everyone enjoys wearing the fashionable shoes from time to time. However, the narrow toe boxes, high/narrow heels, poor arch supported shoes can cause damage to our feet and transfer increased pressures to our knees, hips, low back and spine. According to Harvard Women's Health Watch Article in August 2013: "A 2012 study found that habitual heel wearers have shorter strides, permanently flexed toes, and stunted calf muscles that leave them more prone to injury." When our feet hurt, we are less likely to be active or exercise to stay healthy. 

Habitual wearing of poorly supported, narrow toed shoes can also lead to bunions (large painful bony bumps on the inside joint of our big toe), plantar fasciitis (painful stabbing in the heel and arch of the foot), ingrown toenails (toes being crowded by narrow shoes cause the nail to grow into the skin and can become infected and painful), corns (thickened skin from abnormal pressure), and hammertoes (toes that are pushed back and bend in the middle from overcrowding). When we choose a lower quality shoe, we lose control of our heel bones and inside arch. This problem allows our feet to roll too far inwardly or outwardly. Substitution in movement patterns when wearing improper shoes as we walk, exercise, work or play can lead to increased chance for injuries, pain development, fatigue or balance issues. When our feet lose their proper alignment, our knees, hips, low back, ribs, shoulders, neck and even our jaw has to adjust to compensate for the loss of coordinated balance being projected all the way up the line. On the other hand, wearing a good shoe can help to effectively impact your joints in a positive way to correct abnormal pain patterns or balance issues. 

First, and foremost, your shoes should be comfortable. An article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society supports the recommendation that wearing good shoes, namely athletic shoes, can reduce your risk for falls. Whatever you choose, try to keep the heel low and solid. Look for soles that are not slick or smooth but have nonslip qualities. Specialized Physical Therapy posts a recommended shoe list on our website, www.ptomaha.com/Recommended-Footwear.  This list is updated 1-2 times each year (see the link below). The shoe recommendations are based on the research done by the experts at the Postural Restoration Institute and the recommendations of the skilled team at Specialized Physical Therapy.  

Choosing shoes is very personal and you can choose the style that fits you best. We do, however, recommend that you take the following into consideration when choosing a shoe: 

  1. A rigid, snug heel counter - the back of the shoe that wraps around the back of the heel. It shouldn’t bend when pinched or folded inward. The heel should be held snugly without slipping, giving the rest of our body guidance with each step. 
  2. A level heel at the back of the shoe that is of the same density of material on the inside and outside of the foot when viewed from the back.
  3. A flexible forefoot that bends where the toes bend when a step is taken and not in the midfoot region.
  4. A roomy toebox so the toes have plenty of room to spread out and wiggle. 
  5. A midshoe that doesn’t bend or twist excessively when pressure is applied, to protect and support the arch of your foot. 
  6. An arch on the inside of the shoe that can be felt when walking and that supports the height of your arch so it does not collapse when walking. Most shoes do not have high enough arch support to fit the average arch. People with higher arches tend to suffer even more.  

We encourage you to ask your physical therapist about which shoe is best for you. The skilled therapists at Specialized Physical Therapy will be happy to assist you or your family and friends to get into to best shoe for each person to maximize your comfort and control throughout your daily activities. 

To read more or download a copy of the 2021 recommended shoe list click the following link:  

Recommended Footwear/2021 Shoe List 

If you feel your arch is not being properly supported, our expert therapists can help you assess the appropriate type of support you need. This could be a simple stick-on pad on the middle part of your shoe. It may be an insert with an arch support that fits the unique curves of each of your feet. This can be achieved with off-the-shelf heat moldable arch supports or fully customized foot orthotics made by professional orthotists under our recommendations. Be cautious of off the shelf arch supports, these may not fit the specific shape of your foot. You may spend a great deal of money for something that does not provide the support your foot needs.  

Examples of Heat-Moldable Arch Supports:

You can reach the experts at Specialized Physical Therapy at any time with your questions about shoes, orthotics, or foot pain by calling (402) 939-7939 or emailing us at: m'rcy.matsunami@ptomaha.com

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