Choose the right shoes for foot health this winter

Matthew M. Reiner, DPM, FACFAS

        With the winter season comes a winter wardrobe, and with the winter wardrobe comes winter shoes. When swapping out your sandals for snow boots, choosing the right shoes could improve your health and well-being in a number of ways.
        The first thing to do when selecting new shoes for winter is to make sure you have the correct size. Shoes that are too small can cause pressure sores on the feet or toes. When footwear is too large, it can cause too much friction within the shoe, resulting in blisters and open sores. You can find out your correct shoe size and width with a simple device, called the Brannock. It is important to be standing upright on the device for more precise measurements. The Brannock is readily available at most shoe stores and podiatry offices.
        Next, try finding something that has both warmth and waterproof or water-resistant qualities. Allowing excess moisture from precipitation into the shoe can lower the body temperature of the feet and toes. The body has mechanisms to retain heat in our core but sacrifices warmth and circulation to the extremities. Since our feet are often the first parts of our body to experience feeling cold, keeping them dry with the help of waterproof or water-resistant shoes can provide additional warmth.
        While insulation and padding can help with warmth, one should ensure that there is also arch support built into the boot or shoe. Many popular winter boot and shoe brands sacrifice arch support for abundant insulation, but both are important to consider. Arch support helps to distribute pressure evenly across the foot, which can improve posture, absorb shock and reduce or prevent pain. Tread pattern is important too as a deep tread pattern on winter shoes can help
to avoid slipping on wet surfaces like snow or ice.
        Winter shoes that support proper foot health can not only provide comfort, but they can also help to avoid overuse or fall injuries on winter terrain. Take proper steps to maintain warmth to the lower extremities, otherwise, there may be the potential to develop symptoms of cold exposure or even frostbite.
        Matthew M. Reiner, DPM, FACFAS, is a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon at ProMedica.


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