HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Bet you didn't know it, but April is Foot Health Awareness Month. At first pass, you might think, "Um, yeah, so what?" But, your feet are the foundation of your body. When you stand or walk, it affects everything from your knees to your hips, your back to your neck.
Podiatrists see plenty of problems walk into their offices. The most common are heel pain, fungus in nails, and pain in the balls of the feet. All can be treated with proper shoes. So, we asked Straub podiatrist David Yee which shoes would put us on good footing.
"It rocks. It allows just a nice, smooth roll off of the shoe," Yee says as he holds up a Sketchers brand toning shoe. The toning shoes are also called "rocker-soled" shoes because they give the foot a smooth transition from heel to toe. They're all the rage - promising to strengthen core muscles. Doctor Yee says there's some truth to that but maybe not as much as the hype would have you believe.
The minimalist movement shoes - along the five-fingered running shoe, which looks like a glove for the feet - are another huge trend. They're lighter and have less material which means less arch support and heel cushion.
"Barefoot running emphasizes running on your toes, running on the balls of your feet, on your toes. Takes a lot of energy to run like that, and you've got to be in pretty good shape," explains Yee. He recommends them for athletes not the weekend plodder.
Another shoe called Z-coils look like pogo sticks stuck to the bottom of soles. New spring technology is designed to absorb shock and stress on the heel which, in turn, can reduce stress on back and legs."
Still, some shoes are just, plain and simply, taking us down the wrong path. "I'm not a big fan of rubber slippers, per se," says Dr. Yee.
Say what? The ubiquitous, have one-in-every-color, they-feel-so-awesome-when-they're-worn-in rubber slippah? "When we walk on them, it usually, all that stress, all that pounding goes right through the slipper into our foot and into our body, " the doctor warns. He says there's just not enough arch support or protection, but points to alternatives, like a brand called Fit-Flops, with slightly raised heels and arches, made for both men and women.
And if the warning on flip flops isn't enough, Yee holds up a pair of high heels, "This is the enemy!" he says. "The problem is: when you wear a really, really high heel, it has a tendency to cause shortening and tightening of your legs, but it can also put lot of strain on your lower back." Time to cut down on the high heels, ladies.
So, here's some advice on buying shoes: comfort over style. If they're pinching, rubbing, hurting, don't get them. Buy shoes in the afternoon because feet actually swell about a half-size as the day goes on. Purchase shoes half-an-inch longer than the end of your toes and wide enough so that you can wiggle your toes in them without pain or pinching. And don't buy street shoes that need to be "broken in". Doctor Yee says that means you're using your feet to stretch them out - which can cause pain.