Shoes, shoes, shoes . . .
For most of my life, if I had to stand or walk for extended amounts of time (like an hour or more), I would have some seriously debilitating ankle pain. I always thought I had weak ankles and that it was something I really didn't have any control over.
I sustained an injury to my left foot while working out a few months ago. It was painful for a while and the pain was accompanied by edema. I went to see the podiatrist when it was painful and while he couldn't do anything for the pain and swelling, I learned that I have flat feet. Eventually the pain subsided (but I still have edema in that foot that gets worse when it's hot which was kind of a wake up call for me).
I always thought my feet were normal and it came as quite a surprise that they were not. All those years of pain, I realized, were due to my flat feet and not wearing the proper shoes. While I didn't know that I had flat feet, I did know that shoes like Birkenstocks (with lots of arch support) were even more comfortable than sneakers for me. In Birkesnstocks, I could walk all day--literally--and my ankles wouldn't hurt at all. Learning that I had flat feet helped me understand why.
The podiatrist fitted me for orthotics--basically an insole that would go into all my shoes. The only issue was that in order to wear the insole, the shoe had to be big enough and/or the right shape to accommodate the insole. I hemmed and hawed about it because I didn't want to get rid of some of my shoes but at that point, I'd had enough with the pain. So I got rid of a lot of shoes that can't accomodate the insoles. I also discovered clog style shoes like Dansko and Sanita brand. I find these shoes to be extremely comfortable even without the insole. They are (usually) pricey though so my shoe rotation is through four shoes this summer:
- Birkenstock in Golden Brown
- Dansko Professional in Cordovan Cabrio
- Sanita Clog in patent leather black (I never thought hard soled shoes like these would be comfortable and I love Clog Outlet.com)
- Sanita Mona Sandal
In June, I was on a quest to find very warm, comfortable winter boots. I did very well, by the way, at the Onlineshoes.com outlet. I got these and those. I made sure to get them large enough to accommodate my insoles. My short Timberland boots that I've had for about 2 years now, are really roomy and with the insole, they are like a dream for going on hikes and other outdoorsy type activities.
My athletic shoe situation is still hit and miss. I have learned never to buy sneakers online. When I get through with these sneakers that I have now, I will definitely hit a running specialty store to figure out the right shoe for my foot. Currently, I'm managing by working out with my insoles in my sneaker. But it is so hot these days . . . putting that insole in triples the amount my feet sweat and how hot my feet feel. It's annoying but it is far better than ankle pain. Far better.
I mean, it's been a lot of dealing with shoes lately and I'm kind of getting tired of it but it feels so wonderful to not have to deal with ankle and foot pain. I need one more shoe: something to wear around the house that's comfortable since I am standing most of the time. I've never had a real pair of Crocs (only knock-offs) but I think they could work. Earlier I Googled flip-flops with arch support and found a few hits. But I think like my sneakers, I'm going to have to go try them on to be sure they are what I need. Because I have the insole that was specifically molded to my foot, I know exactly what I'm looking for.
I've had to give up my vanity a little bit. I don't go and get $10 flip-flops or other cutesy shoes. Just looking at them causes me pain, now that I know what causes me pain (i.e. a low arch as opposed to weak ankles). And I can't say the shoes I'm wearing now are the most fashionable around. I can hardly believe that I am choosing comfort as my priority. Comfort over cuteness. But these days, the only thing cute to me is comfort.
I'm also amazed by how the foot works and that a low arch would translate into such intense ankle pain. I'm wondering why I have flat feet in the first place and hope that since I keep my kids barefoot or in soft-soled shoes whenever possible, they will have normal feet.
One upside to all this is that now I really have a limited number of shoes to pick from which means that it drastically reduces clutter. There are still some (essentially useless and pain-inducing) shoes that I can't let go of. But as they sit there, neglected, I'm sure their uselessness will become more and more pronounced which will motivate me to chuck them.
I will never again underestimate the importance of A Good Shoe.