If you have degeneration in any weight bearing joint you should take great care and consider what are the best shoes for osteoarthritis. Weight bearing joints includes the feet and toes, ankles, knees. hips and spine and they will all be affected by the shoes you wear.
This new study is being done into the effect of minimal shoes and they are predicting these will be the best shoes for osteoarthritis of the knee:
We expect that the use of Moleca shoes for six months will provide pain relief, reduction of the knee adduction moment when walking, and improve joint function in elderly women with knee OA, and that the treatment, thus, can be considered another inexpensive and easy-to-use option for conservative OA treatment.
I admit to being skeptical to say the least. I get the idea that altering your posture will change where the pressure goes and so hopefully the new area will have more cartilage to cushion the bone. However is it a good idea to alter our whole bio-mechanics in this way and will minimal shoes really be the best shoes for osteoarthritis?
If you don’t know what minimal shoes are this is the best description I could find:
We define minimal footwear as any footwear that lacks high cushioned heels, stiff soles and arch support. If you want to try, there are a few things you might look for in minimal footwear for running:
- The thickness of the cushioning in the rearfoot and forefoot should be about the same, and not too thick.
- You should be able to easily twist the shoe along the long axis and bend the shoe at the midfoot.
- There should not be a stiff arch support that prevents the natural movement of the arch of the foot.
I can understand by using a shoe without a heel when training yourself to have better mechanics when you are running is a good idea. When running heel striking (landing on their heels rather than their forefoot) is not good as then the arch will not act as the shock absorber it is meant to. However walking is different and everything I have ever read and taught as a sport chiropractor says heel strike is normal when walking.
If you alter the walk so you are not heel striking what effect will that have on other part of the body. Yes no heel strike is normal when running but not when walking.
My initial thoughts are that it will throw the weight forward, causing undue stress throughout the spine. I only hope that when they conclude the study they don’t just ask people about their knee pain but ask if they have developed pain anywhere else. You will walk flat footed, slapping your foot down and that is not a normal walking pattern.
So what are the best shoes for osteoarthritis?
Personally I believe a really good fitting pair of trainers athletic shoes are the best. All shoes should bend and flex (that agrees with the description of minimal shoes above) so take hold of the toes with one hand and the heel with the other. Bend the shoe and twist it to make sure it will flex with your foot (common problem in cheap kids shoes and will cause untold damage later in life). Also no heels higher than a couple of centimeters unless you are only walking from the car to a restaurant table and back!
When considering what is the best shoes for osteoarthritis the most important thing is that the shoe is comfortable and flexible. Persoanlly I think if you have had arch supports in your shoes all your life then your arches are likely to be weak and it is too late at our time of life to strengthen those ligaments now.
Should we start altering the way we walk so dramatically and go against what is natural i.e. a heel strike. I think not myself. Leave a comment below if you have tried any of these minimal or rocker shoes and tell us whether you think they are the best shoes for osteoarthritis.