Recently a patient came to see me for an ankle sprain sustained during a basketball game. Upon examining the feet, I could see the ankle joints were unstable on both sides, the soles of the feet were flat (a.k.a. “flat feet”) and the toenails were too long. The patient had sustained innumerable ankle sprains over a lifetime of playing sports. Although the patient typically wore sneakers while playing basketball, the patient came to the clinic wearing a pair of flat, very worn out canvas shoes. These were the patient’s everyday shoes worn to both work and fun. “How long has it been since you wore a sneaker outside of sports?” I asked. The reply was “a very long time”.
In this case I diagnosed that the impact of flat shoes over time affected the ligaments of the foot and ankle, which had already sustained repeated trauma. Without support, the arches collapsed or got more flat over time, and consequently the shock meant to be absorbed by the arches was absorbed by the joints. Meanwhile the patient’s long toenails were affecting how the patient stepped while running and sprinting during basketball, making the patient susceptible to rolling and injuring the ankles.
The improper shoe can damage the foot in many ways. We see many foot related issues at the HeCares clinic. Bunions, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, morton's neuroma, flat feet, ankle sprains and strains, knee, and even hip issues are all caused or worsened by improper footwear.
Most of us do not hesitate to invest in a quality car, because we need reliable transportation, and a comfortable bed because that is where we spend a quarter to a third of our lives. However, we easily spend half of our life or more in our shoes! Whatever the occasion, whether work or play, the shoe must fit!