What Does Your Shoe Say About You?

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If your shoes could speak, what do you think they would say? I’m sure there would be some very interesting conversations they would love to share.

One thing podiatrists love to do is assess the shoe and the wear pattern on the base of your shoes. Sometimes the results are surprising. You will see great big tall heavy people and the bottom of their shoe looks almost pristine. Some subtle wear and tear but nothing to indicate their mass is causing any abnormal wear. We then counter that with the 8 year old female gymnast who has shoes that look as though an elephant has been training in them for a marathon. It can be hard to tell how and why until you look closer.

A common problem we see is wearing down of the outside of the heel. Contrary to what people may think, this is not a sign that your feet are rolling in or out, but it is actually more to do with your hip and leg position as your foot swings through from one step to the next.

Another one is a circular wear pattern on one or both of your shoes under the forefoot. This is telling us that as you push off from one step to the next during the gait cycle, you may be twisting your foot slightly in order to assist your foot to clear the ground.

By looking at your shoes, podiatrists can detect problems with hamstrings, Achilles tendons, big toes, knees, hips, and lower back pain.

The footwear pattern on the base of your shoes can give podiatrists valuable clues as to how your posture is affecting your walking, and where there may be a loss of efficiency.

A lot of these patterns are done unconsciously and are simply the result of your body moving through the most efficient and pain free motion in order to create propulsive gait. Simply put, to get you from A to B, hassle free.

I should point out that the presence of these wear patterns does not necessarily indicate you have a problem that needs immediate attention, but if you are someone who spends a lot of money replacing your shoes, or you’re unhappy your expensive new shoes are already wearing out, it might be worth considering an assessment.

Take a look at the shoes you are wearing right now and see what areas are wearing down. How do they look? I have some wear on my shoes but it’s not indicative of a problematic gait pattern and looks to be normal wear and tear.

Your turn

An interesting exercise you can try at home is to line up three pairs of shoes, preferably a similar type (i.e. don’t compared a stiletto heeled boot with a running shoe) turn them over and study the wear pattern of the base of your shoes to see if there are any inconsistencies.

  • Do you notice that the wear pattern is the same from one shoe to the next, or does it change?
  • And of the shoes you have chosen, is the wear pattern different on the ones that are least comfortable?
  • Do you notice that one shoe looks different to the other shoe? Even minor differences can be an indication of asymmetry, which could be contributing to pain or injury.
  • Do you have specific pain from wearing a specific shoe?
  • Do you favour a certain style of shoe over another? And why?

If you do notice any of these, it may be worth investigating further. You may have just discovered the map that could lead you to the source of your pain if you have any.

The podiatrists at Sutherland Podiatry Centre are trained to interpret the wear pattern on your shoes to find the best outcome for you. Give us a call on 9542 3491 or book online, bring your shoes, and come in and see us.

Have a great day.


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