Chose suitable footwear for your feet

14. May 2015

Head of the Orthopaedic Department at the East Tallinn Central Hospital Andres Kööp says that foot deformations are most often due to the genetic predisposition of the body and are simply more noticed in connection with footwear.

“Historically is it believed that in the East, for instance, in Japan, where the cultural context favoured narrow shoes or the practice of foot binding to make feet smaller, this pathology has become more prominent throughout generations. However, this belief is not grounded in solid evidence that would suggest such a conclusion,” claims Kööp.

According to him, the formation of bunions remains a cosmetic problem as long as the pain can be eased by wearing more comfortable footwear or by means of various foot soaks and ointments. If it is not possible any more, it becomes a disease.

Almost one hundred patients with this complaint undergo surgery at the East Tallinn Central Hospital. “Deformation of the big toe mostly occurs in women and is very rare in men," points out Kööp. The latter more commonly have problems with the big toe joint, which loses some of its motion amplitude after an injury. This causes stiffness and pain. How often people in Estonia suffer from foot-related conditions is not known with certainty. Such surveys have not been conducted. “In our climate these kinds of problems are quite widespread because we have to walk a lot in closed footwear, which presses our toes together,” explains Kööp. “Naturally, if we could walk more often barefoot on soft moss or sand we would have far fewer complaints.” He says that a barefoot lifestyle is, of course, not the only recommendation, but he believes that people in Estonia pay far too much attention to external appearance rather than choosing shoes for their foot-friendliness. This, however, is closely linked to the overall outlook on life, in his opinion. Is it sensible to prioritise looks over health?

What you should keep in mind when putting on the following footwear

Rubber sole trainers

Andres Kööp:Such shoes may be quite comfortable for walking because they have relatively wide soles. The surface of the soles is not supposed to slide. If it does, it might be hard for your muscles to keep the body upright. A lot depends on how the shoes are inside. Usually such trainers are absolutely flat. And this should set you thinking: if you do not have any problems with your feet, you are safe to go for such footwear. But if your feet are giving you trouble, insoles may come in handy. Generally, the leg is supported.

On the other hand, if you walk in these shoes from seven in the morning until ten in the evening, it is very likely that your feet do not breathe. Often this footwear can be seen on schoolchildren all day long. It has a substantial rubber element, the toe area is closed and ventilation is very poor. Such trainers are normally also rather heavy because their bottom part is made of solid rubber.


Kööp:These may be worn for three-four minutes to go from the shower to the pool or across the sand to the sea if you don't want to get your feet wet. Flip-flops are not good for longer distances. I have always been amazed to see women in such thin and absolutely flat shoes. It’s better to opt for Birkenstock-type sandals: natural material is more preferable than rubber and some arch support is better than none to prevent the foot from sliding. There should not be any strap pressure between or on the toes.


Kööp:Beauty has its price. It is a fact of life. If you are wearing very high heels, all the weight goes on the arch, so you cannot strut around in such shoes from dawn till dusk. As far as breathing, support and fixation are concerned, stilettos are more or less okay. It’s the pressure on the toes that is the real problem. If the wearer has a deformed big toe, she should remember that later her feet will be sore. Sea salt soaks, cooling compresses and various ointments will help alleviate discomfort. I do not claim that high heels are categorically bad for walking: moving on your toes helps you better keep your upper body upright. High heels have a positive impact on shank, thigh and buttock muscles, but you should not have them on for more than three to four hours.

Toe shoes

Kööp:Those who tried them, praise them. There is a separate space for each toe, the foot is well fixed and does not slip and the rubber sole is very thin. It’s just like a glove for a foot. Protected barefoot walking helps you avoid hurting yourself. It is suitable for active outdoor pursuits such as hiking, but do keep away from pebbles.

This is very trendy footwear as barefoot jogging and walking are very much in fashion right now. But in our weather conditions you should exercise caution because everything is relative. If you suffer from trophism [problems with cellular metabolism] you stand a high risk of damaging your skin.


Source: Eesti Päevaleht