When it comes to buying footwear, there are many things to consider, such as will they last? Do they match my outfit? Do I have too many pairs of shoes already? But with arthritis, the already extensive list of considerations grows longer.
My boyfriend frequently tells me that I have too many shoes, but it’s only because it’s so difficult to find a pair that’s just right for the multitude of issues I have with my feet.
There are various weird things about my feet. The main one – and undoubtedly the first one you’d spot – is my toes. My little toes are longer than my big toes, and my other toes are all really short, which I think is the result of a two-pronged strike by growth hormone medication and arthritis. I’m also only a size one, but my feet are quite wide and I have a really high arch. I also have a nice bend (ready and waiting for a bunion to strike) at the joint of my big toe. In short, my feet are extremely attractive.
When it comes to picking shoes, I have a real struggle. There are so many things to think about: I can’t wear just any pair of sandals because they may reveal my crazy toes. They need to be wide enough to fit my feet in, as well as high enough to fit my instep – and insoles, if I’m lucky. And most importantly, they need to be comfy.
This struggle to find comfortable footwear is something all of us arthritis warriors go through, but over the years I’ve managed to pick up a few tricks and tips to make the whole thing a lot easier.
When I remember, which I must admit is rare, I take my shoe inserts from the hospital with me to the shoe shop. That way you can make sure they’re going to fit in the shoes before you buy them and save yourself a trip back to the shop. Most days I fail to wear my inserts in my shoes, either because they don’t fit or because I’ve left them in the last pair of shoes I wore them in.
If you do wear inserts to correct your walking, you’ll know how bulky they can be, but I did get some smaller ones from orthotics which aren’t made specifically for my feet. If you find yourself wearing a lot of shoes that aren’t big enough for the inserts then it might be worth asking your orthotist if these would be suitable for you.
I also swear by a nice looking pair of trainers – sometimes you can even fit your inserts into these, but if not then at least they’re a really supportive shoe. I’m a big fan of boots in the winter; fashion in recent years seems to be leaning towards quite chunky styles which are an absolute dream for support and squeezing in those inserts.
Trainers give you that added bit of comfort that we all need on a daily basis, but boots can be a real help when you need to look a bit smarter.
It goes without saying that most days you will be in flats, but if you are wanting to try out a high heel on occasion, my recommendation would be to go for a block or a wedge heel – both of which seem to be a trend at the moment.
Everyone is going to be a little uncomfortable in a heel, but if you have a sturdy base then you’re less likely to have a little wobble. Don’t go for shoes that are too high, because you’re only going to put more strain on your other joints – my knees are always the first thing to go when I risk a night out in my two-inch heels.
If my handbag’s big enough I try to take a pair of flats with me for the walk home, and sometimes for the dance floor if the heels really aren’t working out for me. I also sometimes carry a spare pair of shoes if the ones I’m planning on wearing are difficult to put on, and I know I’m going to be taking them off or might become uncomfortable.
It goes without saying that we all have to put comfort over looks, but with so many options out there and trainers and chunky shoes coming back into fashion, it doesn’t always have to be a choice of one or the other any more.
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(Any opinions expressed in Collette’s blog are not necessarily shared by Arthur’s Place. Nothing that you read in Collette’s blog constitutes medical advice.)