Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Your feet were made for walking--pain free

Hiking on rough terrain in Yosemite National Park
requires good, supportive shoes
Traveling generally means extra walking—through airports, to exotic sights, while shopping, or just exploring a new city. Almost everyone experiences aches in toes, heels, or arches at some point in life, whether you’re an active athlete or sedentary person. But traveling can bring on new pains or increase existing aches.
It’s important to know the impact that footwear has on your body from head to toe—and to choose the best footwear to prevent problems like these.
Colorful running shoes
can double as walking shoes.
Heel pain: Plantar fasciitis, the most common foot problem, results when the fascial band, which connects the heel to the ball of the foot, detaches from improper positioning of the foot in a shoe. Women who choose high heels may be setting the stage for plantar fasciitis or joint pain in the ball of the foot.   Flat-soled sandals and flip-flops lack support to cushion the foot, and repetitive stress can also inflame the heel bone and cause tenderness, especially if you walk on hard or uneven surfaces (like cobblestones in many European cities) a lot.

Knee pain: “One-inch heels can increase the pressure on your feet by 22 percent, and three inches adds a whopping 76 percent,” says Steven Raikin, M.D., of the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia.  As a result, high heels alter a woman’s posture and increase risk for degeneration and development of arthritis. A lot of patients go to the doctor for knee pain, but it really starts from the foot. Comfortable, supportive low-heeled shoes are a must for travelers. Save high heels for a few special occasions, or just leave them at home and wear fancy flats.
Shoes don't have to be
bulky to provide support.
Lower back pain: Internal rotation at the hip from wearing high heeled shoes causes the pelvis to tilt forward and increases compression in the low back area. The resulting poor posture is often the root of low back pain. Same advice as above to relieve this pain.

Leg pain: A flattened arch and associated leg rotation can increase forces on muscles in the lower leg. Orthotics may help reduce soft tissue stress and improve postural alignment, thus relieving achy legs. Check with your foot doctor or a specialty store with personnel trained in fitting orthotics properly.
Hiking requires a
different kind of sole.
Athletic shoes come in a variety of colors and styles these days. With proper fit, they provide support and comfort to eliminate most problems caused by faulty footwear. Choose from major manufacturers like Nike, Asics, New Balance, and Wilson.
You can also buy stylish walking shoes with padded soles and low heels that provide all-day comfort. Brands to check out include Aerosoles, Ecco, Clarks, and Naot. For hiking shoes, Merrill and Keen offer options from sturdy shoes to high-top boots.

Even fashionable sandals
can provide all-day comfort.
When planning your travel wardrobe, footwear is not the place to skimp. Good shoes may cost a few dollars more, but they will wear better and longer, and your whole body will appreciate the difference.

If you're a female traveler of "boomer" age, check out this article from Irene Levine for more footwear suggestions:
 Photos by Larry Burmeier and from free sources.


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