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How to Keep Your Feet From Aching

By Kara Mayer Robinson
WebMD Feature

Feet. You get only two. Don't let foot pain ground you. These tips can help you keep on the right path.

Choose Your Shoes Wisely

Ill-fitting shoes can cause your feet problems like bunions, corns, hammertoe, and crossover toe. If  shoes don't feel right in the store, don't buy them, no matter how much you like their style. They may never break in, and they can damage your feet.

What’s Your Foot Type?

Do you know? Try the wet test.

  • Get your foot wet and place it on a paper bag.
  • Step away.
  • Look at the image of your foot left behind.
    • If you see half of your arch, you have normal feet, or a neutral arch.
    • If you see almost your entire foot, you have flat feet.
    • If you see just a thin line connecting the ball of your foot to your heel, you have high arches.

Pick your shoes based on your foot type.

"For a normal foot, anything you feel comfortable in is fine as long as it has a rigid heel, some built-in support, and cushioning," says Jeffrey N. Bowman, a podiatrist in Houston.

If you have flat feet or high arches, you're more likely to get plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue along the bottom of your foot. It’s the leading cause of heel pain. Without proper arch support, you can have pain in your heels, arch, and leg. “You can also develop bunions and hammertoes, which can become painful,” says Marlene Reid, a podiatrist, or foot and ankle doctor, in Naperville, IL.

High Arches

Look for extra cushioning and a softer platform. Shoes with good arch support and a slightly raised heel can help ward off trouble. Laces, buckles, or straps are best for high arches.

Flat Feet

See a foot doctor to get fitted with custom inserts for your shoes. They can be pricey, but they can really help. "They're like eyeglasses for your feet," Reid says.

There’s a Shoe for That

Wear athletic shoes when you're active. If you do the same sport three or more times a week, get a shoe designed just for that sport. Good running shoes, for example, can prevent heel pain, stress fractures, and other foot problems that can be brought on by running.

Kick the High Heel Habit

"A 5-inch spike heel isn't going to do anybody any good," Bowman says. "It forces all the weight to the front of the foot and will cause pains." High heels also put you on the fast track to bunions, corns, and other problems.

Can't part with heels? Opt for a shorter one. A 2-inch heel is less damaging than a 4-inch heel. Don't wear them every day, and don’t wear them when you will be on your feet for a long time. If you have flat feet, opt for chunky heels instead of skinny ones, Reid says.

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