By Joy Pape, FNP-C CDE CILC
Brian and I were recently planning a trip to Greece, a country full of ancient history, and I was so excited! While studying for the trip, I became a bit concerned about what I saw. I observed people walking and exploring that amazing country, always on cobblestone streets it seemed, streets we so highly value here in the West Village. No matter how beautiful the pavement, all I could think about were my feet. How was I going to handle this trip walking so much on the beautiful, but uneven, cobblestones? So, I followed my own advice as a health care provider. I started to plan and prepare and decided to purchase a new pair of walking shoes.
I knew from my studies, including personal experience and feedback from my patients, that foot problems can occur while traveling, especially with new shoes. A week before our Bon Voyage, I went shopping and bought a well-known and respected brand of walking shoes. I followed the “rules” of buying new shoes and traveling with them.
Here are my tips for buying new shoes:
- Shop later in the day when your feet are most likely to swell.
- Make sure that the shoes fit well in the store. Don’t go by shoe size. Go by fit because shoe sizes are not standardized.
- If the shoes feel tight, don’t tell yourself that they will stretch. I can’t begin to tell you how many pairs of shoes I have bought thinking that. Many are still sitting in my closet because they never fit well enough to wear.
- Wear new shoes about a half hour each day for the first few days, then change into shoes that you know fit you well. Start increasing the wear time until you can wear your new shoes without any redness, discomfort, or pain.
When traveling, if you are bringing new shoes, break them in first. Also bring a pair of your old, tried-and-true shoes in case you have problems with the new shoes.
When I arrived in Greece, I thought I had it made. That is, until I walked on the cobblestone streets, and only on the cobblestone streets because I had no other choice. In a short time, I realized that the soles were not right for that type of pavement and that the soles of my feet hurt, to the point of numbness. I remembered how pain is our friend—a sign that something is wrong and to do something about it. I was also reminded of my patients who, due to different types of problems, are unable to feel pain and end up with wounds, many of which do not heal and could ultimately lead to amputation.
I listened to my friends, pain and numbness. I told my husband that I must get shoes with a different sole no matter the cost. I went back to the hotel, got the weight off my feet for a few hours, and went to buy a pair of shoes that worked. I purchased a brand I knew from the U.S. which has worked for me in the past. I broke them in, and thankfully, all turned out fine. I am grateful for my knowledge and my feet!
Please take my advice regarding shoes whether you are local or traveling. It is best that you work with a true shoe specialist who can help make sure you have the best shoes for the activity you plan to do. I don’t recommend buying shoes online because you don’t really have the chance to try them out first. Oh, yes, some do have a good return policy, that is, until you’ve walked outside with them.
And, when walking on our lovely cobblestone streets in the West Village, if you feel unstable or your feet are uncomfortable, move over to our smoother, paved sidewalks. Be thankful you have that choice, go home and change your shoes, and ENJOY!
Joy Pape is an internationally known, board certified Family Nurse Practitioner, author, writer, and presenter. She believes that every person is an individual and deserves personalized medical, integrative care, and hope for a healthy and full life. She can be reached at (212) 933-1756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.