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Caring for Your Feet

Did you know that the most important part of caring for your feet is choosing the right shoes for your feet?

Most foot problems are caused by shoes. Shoes that are appropriate for length and width by today’s standards often cause deformity within the feet and ankles.

There are few shoes available to consumers that are truly shaped as a foot is shaped, and function as a foot should function.

One of our goals at NW Foot and Ankle is to help you access information that will enable you to make the best possible decisions about the health of your feet and your family’s feet.

To that end we would encourage you to begin learning about shoes and how to achieve a correct fit as a preventive measure against needing the services of a podiatric surgeon or an orthopedic surgeon.

Most foot problems are preventable, if the causes are understood and addressed early in a person’s life.

The primary cause is footwear. Shoes and boots mostly, but also socks.

The primary driving force for wearing footwear is protection, but the shoes available today far surpass what is required for safe and protected use of the feet. They actually prevent the foot from developing the strength and flexibility that the unshod foot assumes naturally through prolonged use.

Many shoes conform to fashionable trends that are unsafe and deforming and many people are willing to pay the price to look their best, regardless of the consequences in their posture, joint alignment and balance.

Some perhaps are not aware of the significant effects our shoes play in how we move our bodies and engage in play.

To those who are interested in understanding why foot problems are caused by shoes, this is for you. We hope that will be a lot of you.

In addition to the suggestions for getting your shoes fit properly, we will provide four full-length articles written by shoe expert, podiatrist Dr. William Rossi. These articles outline what you need to understand about shoes from infants to seniors and why some types of shoes are so troublesome.

One of the most important purchases you will make for yourself and possibly for your family members if you are a parent or a caregiver, is footwear. You will make this purchase repeatedly throughout your life. It is a purchase capable of generating a lot of pain and deformity. But it can also be a purchase that brings joy, comfort and protection.

It is up to you.

If shoe purchasing is approached with respect and understanding, it is not rushed, but given careful consideration. To wear shoes that are too small, too narrow, or shaped in fashionable ways that do not resemble foot shape, is welcoming bunions, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, and a whole host of other foot ills that we wish to spare you from.

We are certain that our humble website cannot possibly reach every shoe-wearing person and furthermore, that many reached would not heed the message. Change occurs slowly. We hope to change your mind about footwear.

However, we are also realistic about the likelihood of not being able to change history.

History tells us that humans who wear shoes are more likely to view shoes as a covering that must meet fashion standards or workplace standards, rather than as important pieces of protection for the foundation of the body.

Let us begin by stating that the human foot is capable of much more than we give it credit for. We are sure of this by our observations of cultures where shoes are not regularly worn. Did you know that shoeless cultures experience approximately 3% of foot problems, compared to shoe-wearing populations which experience around 75%?

A beautiful example of the capability of strong human feet is the gold medal performance by barefoot Abibe Bikile in the Olympic marathon. As if running barefoot were not enough of a challenge, much of the course was run over cobblestones.

So why does wearing shoes cause so many foot problems? There are several reasons for this. First, as was stated above, many shoes available for consumers are not shaped like a human foot. Second, up to 90% of shoe wearing people wear shoes that are not properly fitted, meaning they are too small or too narrow. This is not entirely the fault of the shoe wearer, since shoe manufacturers have failed to keep pace with the fact that the feet of shoe wearing people have gotten longer and wider since the turn of the century, yet the sizes manufactured and available to the public have largely stayed the same. The fact that a proper fitting service is no longer employed by most shoe selling businesses is another significant contributing factor to people wearing shoes that are not their correct size.

There are several shoe design characteristics that are unhealthy for the human foot: heel elevation, toe spring, and toe taper. These concepts are explained in the "articles" section of this website. Avoiding these design characteristics will go a long way in allowing the foot to function at its best, thereby preventing many common foot ailments. Please read other sections of this website for information on feet, foot function, shoes, and some strategies for treating common foot problems. We wish you excellent foot health!


In his 18 years as a podiatrist, Dr. Ray McClanahan has learned that most foot problems can be corr...