According to Maine-based foot specialist Dr. Steve Gershman, DPM, the best and most common solution to improving the condition of your feet is far less complicated than you may imagine.
“Wear the right shoes,” he advises. His advice is based on his experience with the hundreds of patients he’s seen over the years.
He says, “When I have a patient with foot pain, the first thing I do is look at their shoes.”
In fact, when people with foot issues visit Steve’s practice, he requires that you bring more than just your insurance card.
“When patients make an appointment, I say, make sure you bring in all your shoes,” he says. “If you wear any of those shoes for any length of time, I want to see them. A high percentage of foot problems come from bad shoes. If you don’t wear the right shoes, if doesn’t matter how good a foot you have, you are going to end up with foot pain and damage to your feet.”
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If wearing better shoes is your first step toward better feet, Steve recommends Orthofeet, not only because of the specific feedback he receives from patients, but also from his own personal experience.
“I have bad feet myself,” he says. “Orthofeet products are not just good shoes, but excellent shoes — the best shoes I’ve ever seen.”
In particular, Steve wears the Ventura black athletic shoe for both work and play.
“I’m wearing them now as I’m sitting here,” he says. “I don’t have diabetes. They are simply the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever had in my life. The design is what I have always wanted: deep, sturdy and comfortable. I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I walk in them, even in the woods.”
In particular, Steve likes the toe box (the front of the shoe), which protects toes from damage.
“It’s boxy and deep and wide,” he says, “so that you are not squeezing your toes together and causing a lot of lumps and bumps and calluses. Anything that puts pressure across the toes are going to lead to numerous conditions: hammertoes, bunions, calluses, corns, and ingrown toenails. Numerous pathologies can occur with a bad toebox.”
It’s not just Orthofeet shoes; Steve also recommends Orthofeet’s Biosole gel insert.
“I would say by far that it’s the best non-customized orthotic I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve tried all kinds,” he says. “I’ve never seen an off-the-shelf, non-customized orthotic that contoured the foot as well, and that is comfortable and immediately effective. I use so many of those.”
Steve feels that the other big issue with foot dysfunction is wearing the right kind of socks – and the most common kind of socks are not the type that he recommends.
“Most people were raised with the belief that cotton is good for your feet,” he says. “Well, cotton is actually not good for your feet. It’s the worst thing you can possibly wear. It’s like wearing a wet diaper. It causes and holds moisture.”
He best describes it this way:
“Think about putting a pair of wet cotton jeans in the dryer, along with other clothes. The last thing to dry is the cotton jeans, because cotton holds moisture. When your feet sweat, which is normal – it’s what they do — cotton holds the moisture against your feet and you wind up with wet feet. Wet feet lead to a multitude of problems – not just fungus, but your skin gets moist, making your feet prone to more injuries. It’s better to wear acrylic or other man-made materials. Acrylic is actually my favorite.”
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In addition to good Orthofeet shoes and socks, Steve offers valuable advice for general, daily foot care.
“It’s important to wash your feet and dry them carefully,” he says. “Don’t leave a lot of moisture between your toes, which leads to problems.”
Although moisture and cotton socks are not a good combination, Steve recommends using “a good moisturizing cream at night, especially in the winter. Put it on every night at bedtime. As you age, your skin does not sweat as much, and your feet dry out. You see people all the time with dry, cracked heels, from lack of moisture. This happens especially in the North, when you have heat running in buildings. It dries your feet right out.”
In his practice, Steve often sees patients come to him with foot problems because they don’t care for their feet on a regular basis.
“Most people don’t think to take care of their feet,” he says, “they simply assume that they can throw on a cheap pair of shoes, and that they can wear them year after year and not even replace them. They forget that as they get older, things change. They’ll wonder, why are my feet suddenly hurting now? It’s usually because of wear, tear, and age. Changes occur in your body as you get older. The shoes you have worn over the years have changed the shape of your foot permanently. It’s long-term instability by bad shoes.”
Steve is often concerned with other serious foot problems, but he finds that a good pair of shoes is most often the ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure.
“Usually, instead of wasting a lot of money and time, I just get patients into a better shoe,” he says. “I often tell people to go buy a good pair of shoes and come back in two weeks. It’s that – and not medical intervention –that’s often the solution.”
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