Are Your Shoes Causing Long-term Foot and Ankle Disease?

Being cheap is great. Many religious lessons preach humility and being happy with what you have. But when it comes to your shoes, sticking with an old pair for too long can hurt your feet.

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If you pride yourself in not coveting material things, like new phones and shoes, doctors say it might actually be bad for your health. They recommend that you change your shoes once you've walked in them for 500 miles.

What if you love your old pair of shoes, how bad is it to keep wearing them? Researchers say that after a while shoes lose their shock-absorbing capabilities, which puts more pressure on your feet while you stand, walk, and run. If you expose your plantar (sole) to prolonged pressure everyday, it can lead to increased foot pain and other musculoskeletal problems.

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How often should you change your shoes? If you follow doctors' advice about walking 15 to 20 minutes everyday for optimal health, you'd roughly be walking one or two miles everyday (counting the trip back). That means in one year you'd have walked about 500 miles (including your non-exercise traveling). Then on average, you should replace your everyday shoes every year. This also means you shouldn't buy extravagant, expensive shoes if you know you can only use them for one year (if you do, then you shouldn't wear them often so they'll last longer).

If your occupation has you standing or walking for long periods of time, you might have to change your shoes sooner or buy specialty shoes. According to the National Institutes of Health, prolonged standing at work is linked with lower back pain, leg pain, heart disease, and can even harm pregnancies. They found that standing for longer than two hours starts to affect your hips, and if longer than three hours, starts to affect your overall lower extremities. But doctors found that wearing specialty shoes designed for prolonged standing and walking can lower your risks of developing diseases associated with the occupational hazards of being on your feet for long periods of time.

Tennis shoes are great for prolonged standing. They're made to absorb tremendous pressure from tennis players pounding the ground for hours during matches. They're also lightweight for quick movements, which means they won't hamper you while you're working. They'll continue to provide utmost support to your feet while you stand all day. You should also consider specialty shoes specifically designed for your occupation (nurse's have special nursing shoes).

If you stand, walk, or run all day because of an avid hobby or your work life, don't let that ruin your health! Be proactive in replacing your shoes every year and using specialty shoes for work.

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