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Sunday, June 2, 2013

What Some Shoe Companies Don't Want You To Know.

It was just another day of shoe shopping - or so I thought

How could I have known that, while innocently shopping for shoes, that I'd unwittingly stumbled into a different dimension of altered reality? 

A older salesman with kind eyes greeted me as I stepped into a moderately upscale shoe store specializing in comfortable shoes. He asked if he could help me and I replied, "I'm looking for shoes for my husband. I'd like to see whatever shoe you have with a thick, rigid sole - preferably one with a hidden steel shank in the sole."

"I'm sorry, we don't carry anything like that," he replied with a sympathetic smile.

"I thought you carried men's Dansko dress shoes?"

"Not anymore," he said with a polite smile. 

"Okay, so let me see whatever men's shoe that you do carry that has a thick, rigid sole."

He shook his head, not unkindly. "We don't have any."

I gazed at him in astonishment. "Are you telling me that in this entire shoe store, you don't have any men's shoes with a thick, rigid sole?"

"Sorry." He gave an apologetic shrug.

As a podiatrist, I prefer to 'secret shop' shoe stores, but I decided to introduced myself. "My name is Cathy and I'm a podiatrist. I'm looking for a dress shoe for my husband. He's recovering from a foot injury and I need a shoe with a thick, rigid sole so that he can continue to heal and he doesn't re-injure himself."

At this point, the salesman's previously polite mask dropped and his eyes flashed with a knowing gleam. He gave a furtive glance around, to make sure that no one would overhear our conversation. He leaned in and whispered, "You know and I know that a shoe with a rigid sole is better and more comfortable but we had to stop carrying them because we couldn't get our customers to try them on! We'd show them the shoe and they would see a rigid sole and automatically think it was uncomfortable. We stopped carrying them because we couldn't sell them!"

"Are you telling me that every men's shoe in here has a flexible sole and is crap?" I asked in astonishment. 

"Shhh!" He hushed me and looked around, visibly upset. "Keep your voice down!" 

"I'm sorry," I replied. "I just can't believe..."

"What sells is giving people what they want, not what they need," he said. After a moment, his eyes brightened, "Would you like to see some women's shoes?" 

Feeling that this was an isolated incident, I purchased a lovely Earthies women's wedge heel that fit all the criteria of what makes a comfortable shoe. I went home and ordered the men's Dansko 'Wayne' online, which I knew was a good shoe. We received the shoes and they fit my husband perfectly. 

Several weeks later, my husband and I were out shopping and I saw a well known nation chain men's shoe store and we decided to go in. I asked the handsome twenty year old salesman to show us any men's dress shoes with a thick, rigid sole with, preferably, a hidden steel shank in the sole. He led us past every display to the back of the store where he pointed to three shoes on the bottom shelf. 

"This is it," he said. 

My husband picked up the shoes and tried to bend them. "Yup, these don't bend," he said.

"What about all the other shoes that we just passed?" I asked, hooking my thumb over my shoulder to the rest of the store. 

He shook his head with a smile. "This is it." 


Several hours later, we passed a well-known national-chain hiking shoe store, which shall also remain unnamed. We proceeded into the store and I was appalled to find that this store, that built their reputation on making and selling comfortable, high quality hiking shoes was now specializing in minimalist shoes. Only five percent of the shoes in the entire store were even decent and, once again, they were all relegated to the back of the store. The best shoe in the store was on the back shelf, bottom row. The other ninety-five percent of the shoes that populated their shelves were complete garbage. Their new marketing plan seems to be catering to minimalist shoes that offers little more protection than enfolding your feet in wrapping paper and tying it with a bow.

By this time, I was simmering with indignation!

It is my opinion that these shoe manufacturers know exactly what what makes a good shoe but they have chosen to follow another path. A path lined with lies and greed as they feed upon the misconceptions of an unsuspecting public. There are perhaps some people out there with perfect biomechanics who will be able to wear minimalist shoes for 'X' amount of time, but there are also a whole host of people who go to these stores expecting that if they shell out one to two hundred dollars for a 'comfortable' shoe that they are getting something of quality and worth. 

I used to advise patients that eighty percent of shoes out there are garbage and only twenty percent are good. The search for good looking shoes that are good for your feet and pathology specific is what led me to start this blog! In the last several months, I have revised that number to a ninety percent garbage rate. 

The problem is that finding comfortable shoes is counter-intuitive. If a person's foot hurts, they go to the shoe store and say, "I need a shoe that is soft and flexible - like a cloud." No one goes into the store and says, "My foot hurts. I need a shoe that is thick and rigid." 

But, if you break a bone, we put you in a cast, which not only allows the body to heal itself but also is much more comfortable. No motion translates to less pain. Finding a comfortable shoe is a counter-intuitive process - and shoe companies know this.

It angers me that shoe companies are selling crap to the public. I'm not talking about sky-scraper heels - everyone knows they are not good for your feet, but I am referring to shoe companies that carry men's dress shoes, running shoes and hiking boots and are making claims that minimalist shoes with flexible soles are good for you. 

My career is based on helping people with foot and ankle pain. In my opinion, there are three main causes of foot and ankle pain: genetics, injury and inadequate shoegear. Fifty percent of my practice is based on properly diagnosing and treating people who have made one bad move in a bad shoe and now have a fracture, torn tendon, sprain or a variety of other pathologies. The first part of the process is to get it healed. The second is to make sure that the patient is in proper shoes and inserts so they do not re-injure themselves and can get back to all their normal activities. So, yes, I get upset when I see companies marketing 'comfort' shoes when, in reality, the shoes are recipes for foot and ankle injuries.

When did we as a society forget how to make a quality shoe? 

Or, is it more insidious than that?

When did some of the major shoe companies decide that they don't give a flying fig for how to make a quality shoe - and that it was easier to make a fast buck on crap shoes?



1. A thick, rigid sole that does not bend or flex and has a wide base through the midfoot area.
2. Arch support.
3. A wide, soft square toebox.
4. Rearfoot control. 

It doesn't matter what brand you get or how much you spend - just make sure that your shoes meet these four criteria and you can judge for yourself.

Have a safe and healthy day!

Dr. Cathleen A. McCarthy 


Check out my first novel which was written under the pen name C. Mack Lewis. It's available on Kindle or you can download a free Kindle app and read it on your iPad. 

Thank you for your support!



Moonchime said...

Hi. I have been following your blog ever since discovering it. Thank you so much for helping us to avoid buying cheap, harmful shoes.

My right foot is my "problem" foot. I have broken four toes--independently of one another on that foot. Ironically, the pinky toe is the only remaining toe that hasn't suffered a break. Knock wood. :)

I've had surgery to remove the dying joint in the toe next to my big toe. I'd been a runner for two decades, and a surgeon promised to get me running again within weeks if I consented to the surgery. Had the surgery, but my running days are long behind me. I can't walk without pain--much less try to run.

Since the surgery, I have broken two other toes. The last break resulted in me having "Morton's Neuroma."

In September 2011, I was wearing a cute little useless pair of black flats. I was walking from my living room to my kitchen when the cheap shoes caught on the carpet in an odd way. I went airborne for a second and landed with my right foot under me. I suffered what my doctor called a "Crush Fracture." I had to wear a boot cast for quite some time. At my age--57---my bones heal very slowly.

Now, I live with constant foot pain. I see the cute shoes and sandals offered by shoe manufacturers, and KNOW I cannot wear them. I am unable to stand even a half inch heel on any shoes.

Thank you again for your wonderful blog.

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Dear Moonchime,

I'm sorry to hear that you had to go through so much pain and disappointment!

Please go to my search block and put in "My feet hurt" as I have an article on the top 10 things you can do to alleviate foot pain. I also have an article called "Shoe recommendations for patients recovering from Lisfranc's fractures" that should be helpful to your situation.

Some shoes you should try:

RX Crocs with the strap to the back around the house

New Balance 928

Danskos Professional clog (major department stores carry them)

And, not that I recommend that you continue running, but you might want to try the Hulu One One running shoe.

I wish you luck!

Elizabeth said...

What a great post, however, it leaves me feeling even more depressed than usual about my feet! If you, a professional, can not find what you're looking for, how are the rest of us supposed to?

Question, please. I need a 41.5 in most Euro shoes (and a 9.5 in Crocs). These sizes do not exist. I'm guessing you'll recommend "going big," but the reality of doing so is shoes that are sloppy and slide around on my foot, requiring me to clench up my toes, defeating the whole point of wearing rigid shoes with backs. Thoughts?

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Don't be depressed! There are lots of good shoes out there - they are just a challenge to find. And I do find shoes that I love - I just have to search for what works for me and I have to make sure that I modify my shoes for different activities.

With RX Crocs, because they only come in whole sizes, you need a size 10. If your toes are hitting the front, they are too big. If the next size up feels too big, that is the right size. The trick is to wear the strap to the back so that you don't have to scrunch down your toes and I only recommend using them as house slippers around the house (unless you really love them and want to wear them all day long, which is alright also). However, most people are going to need better shoes for all day walking.

Seriously, don't be depressed. There are so many good shoes out there!

You can go to the search box on the blog and look up:

1. Top 20 Comfort Dress Shoes (there are 2 lists)
2. Top 20 Comfort Sandals
3. My Feet Hurt - top ten things to do to alleviate foot pain
4. Shoe recommendations for patients recovering from Lisfranc's fractures.

Thank you for reading the blog!

Moonchime said...

Hi Cathy! I want to thank you for the shoe recommendations. I feel hopeful that I may actually be able to wear shoes that don't cause foot pain. Thank you, again!~

Jennifer said...

Had to chime in here - during the Great Shoe Hunt of 2013 (ended in a pair of Taos oxfords and Dansko mary janes, thank you so much for the post on dress shoes!) people would look at me with a straight face and say "why not just get some cute little flats so your feet won't get tired?". Is everyone just walking around in pain and I'm the only one who won't?

Two questions:

Have any of your patients complained to you that since Dansko's production moved to China, the instep of the professional clog is too low? They pinch across the top when I try them on which was never a problem in the past. I got some Sanitas but they just aren't as good as my old, disintegrating Danskos. Ariat had great motion control but only moderate arch support and I couldn't get my orthotic inside.

Have you looked at and rejected Orthaheel sandals, or have you ever found a pair you like? The Wolky and FitFlop are comfortable but I didn't like the styling.

Anyway, keep it up!

Elizabeth said...

I, too, welcome your thoughts on Orthaheel flip flops (Tide, for example). My local podiatrist outfits her entire family in these for the summer -- but I think you're not a fan?

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Jennifer,
I have noticed that since Dansko production moved to China, some of the dress shoes are more flexible in the forefoot area, which I do not like. I didn't notice the problem you noticed but I am not surprised. Even with the 'same' shoe, I notice that there are subtle - and sometimes not so subtle - changes that are made over the course of several years. I assume this has to do with design changes, attempts to decrease the cost, and a myriad of other factors. This is one of the reasons why I always advise patients to test each shoe individually because shoes do change and sometimes there are simply 'broken' or sub-par shoes.

I don't like the Orthoheel sandal as much as some other sandals because the forefoot area is too flexible. I LOVE their arch support BUT the forefoot area is has too much flex, which causes problem for anyone who has Hallux Limitus, Morton's Neuroma, hammertoes, capsulitis, bunions and a wide variety of other issues. I don't feel that I can recommend them because there are so many other far superior choices in sandals.

I know that many Podiatrists recommend Orthoheel flip flops and sandals and I agree that wearing them is far better than walking barefoot or wearing flimsier flip flops but I truly believe that there are no good flip flops. If your feet hurt or you are having knee, hip or lower back pain, in my opinion, a major part of alleviating the pain and slowing or stopping the progression of the damage is getting hardcore biomechanical control of your feet. Your feet are your foundation. Protecting your feet with proper shoes will allow you to stay active longer with less problems. I wish I could recommend the Orthoheel sandals but, until they have a forefoot area that does not bend and flex (and cause constant microtrauma across the forefoot structures and therefore cause cumulative wear and tear to the joints and soft tissue structures) - I can't recommend them.


Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Orthoheel flip flops are one of the better 'types' of flip flops, but I've come to the conclusion that there are no good flip flops. In my opinion, every time you scrunch down the toes to stay in the flip flop, you are promoting hammertoes and other forefoot deformities. Also, if you don't have biomechanical control of the midfoot and rearfoot (which the flip flop doesn't), you are forcing all your tendons, muscles and joints to work harder, which causes mechanical strain and, over the course of time, promotes the chance of injury and damage as well as cause knee, hip and lower back pain.

As I always say, you can line up ten doctors and get ten different opinions and they may all be right - it's simply ten different ways of approaching the same problem.

My work day would be much easier if I could tell people what they want to hear but, by the time a patient comes into my office and is in pain, they are not forking over their hard earned money to hear what they want to hear - they are paying me to tell them the truth and to help get them out of pain so they can get back to enjoying life.
And the truth is, in my opinion, flip flops are bad.


Jen said...

Thank you for the thoughtful reply! I'll skip trying Orthaheel but I found a positive review for Abeo in your archives, I'll try those.

You're totally right about the Dansko dress shoes by the way - I tried several on and the flexion was noticeable and uncomfortable. If you haven't tried it, I thought the Dansko Becky had great control and kept the weight off my forefoot.

Thanks for the blog, it's a great resource!!

Anonymous said...


I was wondering if you could tell me if you recommend Umberto Raffini
Brand of shoes for women. I have had foot problems for years with no real diagnosis. I have stiff big toes aching feet. I can give myself charlie horses if I curl my toes. I need a good dressy pair of shoes. The Walking Company sells these shoes. Thanks for your time.

Lisa said...

This is so helpful - thank you! This is probably a dumb question, but how can I tell if a shoe has arch support? - or the sole is thick or rigid enough? - Is there a minimum measure of thickness required? Thank you for having this blog! Also, I saw this article http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2338506/The-pain-heels-guide-How-feel-like-youre-high-heel-heaven.html and was wondering if you could offer any insight as to whether or not it contains any factual info. Anyway, thanks again!

hurting feet said...

I have been wearing Dansko for a month but by the end of the day my feet and legs are killing me. What other dressy shoe with maybe padding instead just a hard soul would you recommend.

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Regarding the Umberto Raffini - some are good and some are not. Try any one of them that have a thick, rigid sole with no bend or flexiblility. Also, make sure that you get one with rearfoot control. I looked at the shoes online but I haven't checked them in person. If they have a thick rigid sole that does not bend or flex, they should be good.
Thank you for reading and I'm sorry about the delayed response!

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

HI 'Hurting Feet',
Sorry to hear the Danskos aren't working for you! Are you wearing the Dansko with rearfoot control? If it doesn't have a back, that might be why you are struggling with the shoe.

Other options are the Wolky Cloggy (closed or open toe), Alegria Paloma or Abbi, Wolky Blossom, Rx Crocs with the strap to the back OR you can always go with a black New Balance 928 that will blend in with black dress slacks. Let me know how it goes.

Hope that was helpful!

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Lisa,

Sorry for the delayed response!

In my opinion, the sole of your shoe should be about an inch thick and, through the midfoot area, it should have NO bend or flex. In the forefoot area, there should be MINIMAL bend or flex. As far as arch support is concerned, only custom-molded arch support captures each arch optimally. However, many over-the-counter inserts offer adequate arch support and you might have to try different kinds to see how they feel. Many Podiatry offices carry excellent OTC inserts and I would recommend that you make an appointment with your local Pod to try them on.

Regarding the article:

There's a lot of misinformation out there and this article is no exception.

1. Never buy online - this is false. I buy online all the time. I prefer to support local businesses but sometimes I don't have the time to shop and I prefer many shoes that some local stores don't carry. I often find I have a much wider selection online. I'd also like to point out that when I am buying online, I tend to purchase shoes that I am already familiar with. I use Zappos and other sites that have free shipping and free return. I prefer to try on the shoes but I also like brands that are hard to find in stores.

2. False! Wedges are better for your feet than spiked heels. Not everyone can wear heels based on their particular biomechanical foot issues, but wedges are better than spikes.

3. False. Budget shoes can work out well if you know what you are looking for. Years ago, I purchased a $12 shoe from Payless Shoes and they were the most comfortable shoes I wore for years. Shoes are an investment and spending more on shoes is usually a wise move BUT just because you spend more doesn't always mean you are getting a better shoe. If you are on a tight budget, you can find good shoes that are comfortable as long as you know what you are looking for.

4. False. Blisters are caused by poor and ill fitting shoegear and inadequate socks. The military has done extensive research on blisters and show that ALL blister products that you can purchase over-the-counter help your feet for one hour and then make everything worse. If you get blisters, you need better fitting shoes and better socks (i.e. socks with man-made synthetic fibers). If blisters persist, follow up with your Podiatrist.

5. True. Gel cushions inside of dress shoes can help increase comfort.

6. Sort of. They are recommending that you soak your feet in ice water. I would recommend that you elevate your feet and ice them for ten minutes on and off with a bag of frozen peas or ice pack. Also, I would recommend that if your feet hurt that bad after wearing heels, you need better shoes!

7. Ba-humbug! Within every shoe line - there are good and bad shoes. You can't say that "all Clarks" are good because some are and some aren't. You have to judge each shoe individually.


Hope that was helpful and thank you for reading!


Lisa said...

THANK YOU Dr. McCarthy!!! - Your responses are so helpful and I really appreciate it!!! Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Anonymous said...

I've had the same suspicions as you express in this post, plus one more: the minimalist design means cheaper manufacturing costs and thus higher returns. To my mind, there's nothing wrong with a company wanting to make a healthy profit on their products, but I get irritated when they frame the product as healthy (such as those 'barefoot' shoes that seem to be so popular with several companies at present) but which are in fact damaging. Those damaging products are often just as costly as a well-made shoe, too.

Thanks for letting me rant a bit! :)

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Ilegirl,
I totally agree. It's appalling that Merrell, who has built their reputation on making quality shoes, has completely jumped the shark by embracing minimalist shoes and passing them off as "comfort" shoes. It's a marketing ploy and they are doing more harm then they realize. Give them a year or two and hopefully they will wake up and start focusing on quality shoes again.
Thank you for reading!

Jeff McGrath said...

Dr. McCarthy,

I recently discovered your blog and it has already positively impacted the quality of my life. I really enjoy it. That being said, could you help me? I am a poor grad student with limited insurance coverage which only covers sickness and injury.

I have at least moderate hallux limitus in my right foot, presumably from the mid foot fusion done to correct a chaotic lisfranc fracture. The my right knee is misaligned from meniscal tearing. Both, and my ankle as well, offer at least moderate pain after even just walking.

Adding to this, I have a surgically, installed rod on my femur to correct a chaotic fracture which also begins to hurt after brief activity. These injuries are not recent.

Do you have any advice for me in regards to shoes or equipment? I ask for specificity because the combination of these injuries makes shoe and equipment shopping difficult. Most things I have tried simultaneously alleviate and exacerbate any of the injuries; the sketches and MBT rocker shoes are an example of one. Currently I wear brooks adrenaline GTS 13 with custom orthotics. I also have crocs with a back strap.

I am embarrassed to beg for freebies from a doctor, but you seem very friendly and helpful. Everything hurts and I can't see a doctor. I also have a good story and some fun x-rays if you'd like some material for a blog post.

Thank you kindly. Apologies for the novel-length blog comment.

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Jeff,
Thanks for reading! And thank you for the kind words.

I know what it's like to be a broke student! Try this...

Google: "RX Crocs, cheap" and see what you can come up with. This is what you should be wearing around the house as a bedroom slipper. You can also use the 20% coupon on the blog at the Crocs website for RX Crocs. You should be able to find them for a decent price. Spend this money!
Also, if you can't find what you need on Rx Crocs for the price you want, try getting a knock off Birkenstock sandal for around the house. If you get the Birk - get the sandal so that you have rearfoot control.

You're next investment is either the New Balance 928 or 1540. Just bite the bullet and get one of them. When I was in school, I bit the bullet and spent $95 to buy a pair of Professional Danskos and I distinctly remember the PAIN of spending the money but that was the shoe that got me through my residency and it was worth every cent! Without them I would have been in bad shape with foot and back pain.

Next, arch support. We have a great arch support at the office for $50 but I will give you the "student discount" and mail them to you at cost if you like. Email me at pinnaclepeakpodiatry@gmail.com and I will tell you what the cost is and then you can decide for yourself and, if you choose, I'll mail them to you. Email it to my attention and Susie will forward it to me on Monday.

Next, it sounds like you might benefit from an ankle brace. The best one, which you can get online (but it is a little pricey) is the Bioskin Trilok brace. If that is too much, you can get a less expensive brace - the important thing is to make sure that the brace comes down past your Lisfranc's joint so that you can limit motion where you had the surgery. I also like the Futura braces and, even though they don't come down past the Lisfranc's joint, the price is less and it may work well. You may have to do some experimentation to see what brace works well for you.

For sandals, if you have a hiking store such as REI around you, I would try on the Chaco Z1 or Z2 or a amphibious Keen sandal for beach wear (on the sand and in the water) and for summer use. Make sure that the sole is thick and rigid and that it has a rearfoot strap. Go with whichever one feels the best, assuming it meets the criteria for what you need - a thick, rigid sole with a wide base, arch support, forefoot, midfoot and rearfoot control.

For dress shoes, you are looking for a shoe with a hidden metal shank in the sole, a wide base, an extra-depth toebox and good rearfoot control. I got my husband the Dansko Wayne and my husband "likes" the style but "loves" the comfort.

For knee bracing, you may have to experiment with over-the-counter products you can get in the store or online.

If money is super-tight, spend it on the RX Crocs for around the house and the New Balance 928 or 1540 and then worry about inserts and bracing after you get the basics.

Hope this was helpful and thank you for reading!

Eric Jackson said...


Jeff McGrath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff McGrath said...

Thank you for the wealth of information and offers. Dr. McCarthy! I really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wonderful blog. I've recently had my first (very painful) experience of plantar fasciitis and have abandoned most of my shoes :-(, which means I need to do some replacing.

I've been reading and reading all over the internet (your blog in particular) and I'm confused about what a rigid sole means. For example, I went to Zappos to poke around (I have no affiliation with them, but find their videos helpful) and searched on "steel shank".

Here's one of the results, chosen at random: the Clarks shoe called Levee Bank (see link below). The description on the site says "Steel shank provides increased midfoot support and lateral stability," which makes this sound like a good choice, but in the video the presenter bends the shoe to show how oh-so-flexible it is.

How can a shoe bend if it has a steel shank? I see this in many of the shoes that come up in similar searches and find it very confusing. Are these shoes good choices for someone with heel pain? Thanks much for your comments!


Kim said...

Hi! I have been really getting a lot out of this blog, and would like to know what your recommendations would be for me. Here is the background:
In February, I slipped on some ice and ended up with a comminueted fracture of my navicular. I was non-weight bearing a little over 4 months, and have now been told that the bone is healed. No surgery, but I have been using a bone stimulator. I also have "mild" RA that is getting worse. The RA has caused changes to the big toe joint in the same foot as the fracture.

I have always been a barefoot-birkenstock-or converse girl, but know I need to change. My Pod told me to wear superfeet inserts, but otherwise did not give any advice. I got the RX cros, even they don't seem to have enough support. As my main shoe, I am wearing Asics Gel Nimbus

So, my questions: (keep in mind that I have always been clumsy, and have a limited budget)
1. Can I still wear my Birkinstocks that have heel straps?
2. Can you recommend a nice-looking "teacher" type of shoe?
3. Is there any hope of being able to wear the Converse with inserts?
4. Any other advice you can give me to keep from reinjuring my navicular? I was told the RA, prednisone and methotrexate use were contributing factors, and also made me a poor candidate for surgery.

Thanks for what you do!!!

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Anonymous,
When it comes to steel-shanks, the question is: does the steel shank go all the way out to the toes or does it stop before the forefoot area? The steel shank that is best is the one that comes out as far as possible. Once again, the video that you are looking at is feeding into the misinformation that is out there by saying that a shoe "bending" is more comfortable - because that is what sells. You really need to find a shoe that does not bend of flex - even in the forefoot area - and that can be challenging to find and that is what this blog is about. The only (and best) way to check a shoe is to physically try to bend and flex it. I always request that patients bring in one bag of their favorite shoes so that we can go through and check them one by one because you can't tell how rigid a sole is by looking - you have to physically test it yourself.
Thanks for reading!

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Kim,

I've glad to hear you have the RX Crocs - they are for around the house to wear as bedroom slippers.

I would HIGHLY recommend that you invest in either a New Balance 928 or 1540 to wear as much as possible. Also, did your Pod check your insurance to see if your insuance carrier covers custom-molded orthotics? There is a good chance that they do. If not, Superfeet is one of the inserts that I do recommend. Having RA, you might need more cushion then the Superfeet offers, which means you may want to look at a Spenco or a Footsteps insert.

Also, Looke at the Dansko Professional with rearfoot control or one of the low heeled Dansko sandals with rearfoot strapping. Another excellent shoe is the Wolky - CLoggy, Tulip, Ruby or Jewel. These are a little expensive but they are an investment and will save you money in medical bills in the long run. The Wolky's have more cushion in them, which may work better for your RA, but you may have to judge that for yourself which one feels better.

Birk sandals are fine! As long as it has rearfoot strapping.

I know it's hard to go buy new shoes when you are on a limited budget, but I would start shopping now and you can always look online for better bargains or get to know the salesperson in the store and ask them to call you when the shoes go on sale.

Best wishes and I'm so glad to hear that you are healing!


Kim said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

I have very minimal insurance that is maxed out for the year. I will look into the softer inserts you suggested. I am so glad that I can still wear the Birks- that made my whole day. Will try to get the 928's and some Wolkys or Danskos as soon as I can afford them as well. At this point, I am willing to make the investment not to reinjure myself!

Do you recommend wearing the Superfeet with the Wolky's or Danskos, or do you feel like they have adequate support on their own?

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. Thanks for your willingness to share your information in helping others.

My question is... How are Off the Beaten Track shoes for planter fasciitis and sore big toe if bent too much.
Danskos make my legs hurt, I am wondering if I need more padding. I was looking at springfield shoe.

Thanks again for all your help.

sal said...

Excellent post. thanks for the info here. I find wearing crocs around the house really help my feet from hurting daily.

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Kim,
You don't need the Superfeet in the Wolky's or Danskos - plus, I don't thing they will fit. The support in them is adequate.
Hope all is well and thank you forthe kind words!

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Anonymous.
Some of the OTBT shoes are very good (like the Springfield) but some of them are not good. If you stick with the OTBT shoes that have a thick, rigid sole that does NOT bend or flex and has rearfoot control, you should be fine. Stay away from any of them that flex.

You might want to try on a Wolky shoes like the Cloggys, Tulip, Ruby or Jewel. Danskos are not for everybody as they offer hardcore biomechanical control, which can be too much for some people.

Hope all is well and thank you for reading!

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Thanks Sal!
Glad to hear the Crocs are helping...

tired feet said...


I have been wearing Dansko and saw on your blog that Alegria are a good shoe. They looked to have a softer heel than the Dansko. I wore them for a day and my feet hurt and my planter facitis was worse. My question is... does it take a few days for your feet to get use to shoes or being that at the end of the day my feet hurt that means they are not the right shoe for me?

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Tired Feet,
Did you get the Alegria with rearfoot control? If you got the Alegria without rearfoot control, that might be what is aggravating your plantar fasciits.
If your feet were fine in the Danskos and you are now in Allegria WITH rearfoot control and NOW your feet hurt with the Allegria - that might mean that the Allegria is not the proper shoe for you.

Anonymous said...

I have had the Alegria, and Dnasko with rear-foot control. I just tried the Wolky and the sewing hits my small toe. So nest question. Being that my Danskos make my legs ache by the end of the day... Alegria made my planter fascistic act up more. I am winding down to what to wear. Would it help at all to wear the Alegria with the supper feet insole? or do you think that it is just the shoe over all?

Again thanks for your willingness to answer our questions.

Tired Feet.

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Tired Feet,
Sorry for the delay in response to your question! If the Superfeet fit in the Alegria and it feels good to you - then wear it. I always tell patients that as long as you find a shoe that fits the four criteria AND feels good to you - then you are fine. Finding comfortable shoes can be a real challenge so hang in there and keep trying until you find what feels the best to you.
Have you gotten the RX Crocs yet?
With the strap to the back, the RX Crocs will probably be your most comfortable shoe. If you live in a cold environment - get the Croc Mammouth.
Hope all is well,

AmyB said...

I cannot thank you enough for your blog. I have learned more in the past two hours than in the past six months. Wish I had known about it a few months ago because I purchased the wrong expensive shoes for my hallux limits but I am just thankful that I wont do it again because I know what to look for. Thank you!!!

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Amy B,
Thank you for the kind words! Please help me spread the word by "liking" me on your social network.
Thank you!

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi Doctor,

I am a 61 year old male with hallux limitus looking for inflexible shoes. I would like to know what shoe your husband found. I am wary of rocker bottoms, even the 'stable' ones. Thanks.

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hello Anonymous,
61 year old male with Hallux Limitus...
I would recommend that you get New Balance 928 for exercise. I purchased the Dansko Wayne for my husband, which is a casual loafer type of shoe that he can wear to work. He hikes in the 5-10 Camp Four, which works wonderful for anyone with Hallux Limitus and I make him wear his RX Crocs around the house. He calls me the 'Croc Fairy' because he says that when he gets out of the shower, the 'Croc Fairy' has magically left his Crocs outside the shower.
He has other shoes but those are his 'go to' shoes. He also wears his custom-molded orthotics in all of them except the Crocs.
Hope all is well!
Thanks for reading,

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