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Summer Shoes

Good shoes are vital for IC patients. With the warmer weather here, many of us are bringing out our lighter clothes and summer shoes, which may include sandals, scuffs, flats, heels and walking shoes. Although it feels great to be in our summer wardrobe again, wearing last year's shoes may present new problems.

Last Year's Shoes
Unlike last year's clothes, which you let-out or replace when they don't fit, you might continue to wear shoes that no longer meet your needs, fit or offer good support. Some shoe styles may not have been appropriate for your feet and body in the first place. Even if back, leg and/or knee problems, or even IC symptoms occurred after wearing these shoes, you may not have recognized the problem.

The way shoes and orthodics support your feet will dictate your upper body posture, especially when you move. Therefore, what you stand and walk in can literally throw you back into a past posture and movement style. And, because both your feet and body can change over time, shoes and orthodics should be reassessed every year or two

Changes in your Body Affect your Feet
When your body weight distribution shifts, it falls into your feet differently. Shoes may conform and wear according to the change, but more often they will feel very uncomfortable and/or cause problems.

Your body can easily change over the period of a year. Sometimes the change is positive. For example, if you have been exercising and/or having hands-on bodywork, your muscles may have become longer and more flexible. Your body weight distribution may have shifted and helped you to occupy your feet more evenly, and therefore, move more easily. However, other shifts in your body weight can be unwelcome when they occur with pregnancy, perimenopause, age, weight gain, injury, the furniture you sit on, and the pain pattern of IC. Although some changes are inevitable, alternating your shoes to match your different tasks will make you feel more comfortable and supported, which is necessary when you have IC.

Different Shoes for Different Tasks
Ideally, you should change your shoes for different tasks. For example, driving moccasins are comfortable for driving, but they won't provide support when you are walking. Neither will many other types of shoes. Consider your daily lifestyle before buying new summer shoes. Refer to the following information to find the most supportive shoes:


Choose lightweight sandals with rubber soles and a little lift in the heels.

  • Avoid stiff sandals that are cut high over the insteps.

  • Straps or thick pieces over the top of the feet too close to the ankles can prevent the feet from rolling through when walking. This is also true with scuffs. Avoid scuffs that are cut too high over the insteps.
  • Avoid sandals with built-in foot impressions, such as some with cork soles. These sandals have the molded pattern of someone else's foot, and they usually have negative heels. When heels dip down lower than the toes of shoes, body weight stays in the heels and the feet cannot roll through when walking. Negative heels can also cause a collapse in the rib cage (upper body posture).

  • Avoid thong sandals, especially when standing and walking a lot. Thongs cause the toes to grip, the knees to lock, and the tissue along the shin to tighten-up.
    This is also true with exercise sandals.


  • Avoid heels, both narrow and wide, that are three inches or higher. Both styles can cause knee problems when they are this high. Avoid shoes that are cut high over the instep. Wear round, square or open toes to allow room for roll-through.

Walking Shoes

  • Choose shoes with the least turn-up at the toes. Such shoes place body weight in the heels and may overstretch the plantar fascia (the bottom of the foot), which can cause pain and inflammation.

  • Avoid insoles with too much arch to prevent strain to the ankles, knees and lower back. Replace uncomfortable insoles with two pairs of Dr. Scholl's inserts. Cut the heels off of one pair (cut across the narrow part of the foot) and place the cut out heel lifts in the back of the shoes over the full inserts. If feet pronate (ankles that fall toward one another, which is sometimes the case with IC patients) have orthodics made.

  • Fabric shoes are better than leather, however, different types of stitching and lacing can affect movement. Pull and tighten laces away from the body with feet (one at a time) flat on the ground when lacing shoes. Follow the advise of The American Heart Association (AHA) to accommodate the shape of the foot (Harvard Women's Health Watch, In Brief, Sept. 1996):

Use outside eyelets for narrow feet.

Use inside eyelets for wide feet.

Lace Across For High Arches

  • Encourage even body weight distribution by practicing the following exercise daily, especially before walking.

Exercise of the Month

Ankle Exercise #1

Starting Position
Stand with feet hip width apart.

Using a small movement, rock side to side through relaxed ankles. Body weight transfers over balls of feet.

Locking knees and learning backward.

Ankle Exercise #2

Circle over whole foot. Find the easiest direction and transfer weight side to side and back to front, making a small oval. Keep ankles relaxed.

Letting body weight transfer too far back into heels, leading with hips or locking knees.


About The Authors:
Gaye is an author and IC patient & support group leader who has been involved in IC work for years. In 1990 she published "Stretch Into a Better Shape" and produced a stretching and exercise video for IC patients in 1993. She is a specialist in Aston-Patterning movement and muscle re-education.

Andrew has over ten years of clinical and health care management position. He is currently the Administrator of Maison Hospitaliere, located in New Orleans. Andrew holds a Ph.D. in Special Education, a M.A. of Health Adminstration, M.A. of Clinical Psychology.

They welcome your comments and feedback on their articles at: The Sandlers


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