“Are worn-out shoes still have their purpose?”
The best way to find out whether your gait is a healthy one is to visit a podiatrist for an assessment, says Mark Lin, the podiatrist in charge of the Gold Coast’s Footwork Clinic. The second-best way is to look at the way your worn-out shoes wear once you’ve walked or run a few miles in them.
And folks are never too young to undergo a basic shoe wear analysis. “Examining worn-out shoes or other worn footwear can help parents to identify a need to address gait problems in children,” says Mark. “Early corrections are easier to achieve and are less likely to be complicated by years of injuries sustained because of poor alignment of the lower limbs.”
What Worn-Out Shoes Can Tell Us
While looking at worn-out shoes can’t reveal everything about lower-limb biomechanics, they can point towards two gait problems that make people susceptible to injuries. And the effects of addressing these issues are far-reaching since they may ultimately lead to conditions like arthritis later in life if their causes are not identified and corrected.
Worn-out shoes tread wear patterns can indicate overpronation, in which the ankle is inclined to roll inward with each step resulting in a twisting motion for which the toes must try and compensate. It’s often the reason behind knee pain and a tendency to suffer from shin splints. Overpronation is a common problem among people with flat feet.
Underpronation is the opposite of overpronation. The feet roll outwards, with much of the work being done on the outer edge of the foot. People who underpronate, says Mark, are often diagnosed with stress fractures or iliotibial band syndrome, a painful condition in which the connective tissue in the knee and outer thigh are damaged. Hip and knee pain are common systems. Underpronation is a common problem among people with high-arched feet.
“Both underpronation and overpronation can often be corrected or improved using the right therapies,” says Lin. “You often find people saying that orthotics are the only solution, but the Footwork Clinic doesn’t entirely agree with that. Customized orthotics relieve symptoms, but a podiatry clinic should attempt to retrain the body, building stronger, healthier feet.”
How to Check Shoe Wear to Detect Pronation Abnormalities
If your feet are working as they should, your worn-out shoes’ soles will show wear at the centre of the heel and at a central location towards the balls of your feet. This shows that your heel is contacting the ground and your feet are pushing off towards the next step forward with good alignment.
If you are an overpronator, wear shows up on the inside edge of the heels and balls of your feet – on the side corresponding with the big toe. Underpronators (also termed supinators) display a shoe-sole wear pattern corresponding with the outer edge of the heel and foot, towards the little toe.
If you spot these symptoms of foot-related issues on worn-out shoes, there’s no need to despair, says Mark. A variety of therapies could help to correct or reduce the problem ensuring that the lower limbs, knees, hips, and lower back aren’t tasked with dealing with the knock-on effects of gait abnormalities.
“Having an active lifestyle is a metaphorical step in the right direction. Ensuring that your feet are working as they were designed to is a step towards ensuring that you can enjoy physical activity to the full, even as your body ages.”
The Footwork Clinic, situated in Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore and Sydney CBD, is there to help should you have an injury or condition that you think would benefit from heat or ice treatment. They offer advanced manual therapies and a holistic and corrective care approach, with a proven track record of success in resolving acute and chronic conditions, and they will gladly offer advice to get you on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
For further information, visit The Footwork Clinic – Leading Sports, Podiatry, Foot And Lower Limb Corrective Services to book online, or call Mark Lin or his friendly team on +61 2 9131 6891.
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The information contained in this guide is provided in good faith and is not intended to be nor is it to be used as a substitute for any sort of professional, medical or podiatric advice. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a podiatrist. Any users should always seek the advice of their podiatrist, or other qualified healthcare providers before commencing any treatment.
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