Saturday, April 10, 2010

It All Comes Down To Feet

When I got RA, my feet were super painful, so I started wearing a pair of slip-on runners (above right) around the house, because they provided the most support/cushioning for my feet. After quite some time wearing those runners, though, it occurred to me that that they might not, ultimately, be the best thing for my feet.

Why, you ask?

Well, I'd just been reading an article about how barefoot running is actually better for your feet than running in shoes that have all kinds of artificial support. I can't remember what exactly the article was, but here's a link to one from Science Daily that explains it even better I think. Daniel E. Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, is the scientist behind the study that came to the conclusion, and he says, "Our feet were made in part for running." They were also made in part for walking, and walking without shoes, so by artificially supporting them with my runners – heavy ones at that – it occurred to me that fateful night (cue melodramatic music!) – that I might not actually be doing them, or my joints, any favours.

So once again, experiment time!

I got out my regular slippers (above left) and started wearing them. They might look like it, but they're not actually those great big huge sheepskin slippers; they're quite thin, but warm and soft. They weren't as comfortable as the runners at first, and I had to walk slower because of that, but we're just talking around my apartment after all.

Lo and behold, over the next few days, my feet slowly started feeling somewhat better!

Since then, it's sans runners pretty much. Don't get me wrong: my feet still hurt at times, and let's face it, I don't doubt that much of the improvement I'm feeling in my feet and elsewhere is due to the drugs I'm on. But there was a marked enough improvement over a short enough period of time when I stopped constantly wearing the runners at home that I can't help but feel the improvement was down to that.

Some days more than others my feet still feel like they need some extra lovin' – an extra little cushioning at the bottom, they're so sore, so I try to wear shoes/slippers that accommodate that. For instance, yesterday I went out to do a few errands, and the soles of my feet really hurt for some reason, despite the fact that I had been wearing my ├╝ber-comfortable Rockport boots, so when I got home, I put on some flip-flops I have. They're quite cushy, but flat, so no support, so they're perfect for those damn-my-feet-are-achin' days.

Life with RA: in the end, ya gotta do what ya gotta do!


  1. Soft, cushy shoes are definitely a must with RA. I wear felted wool Haflinger slippers indoors just about year-round; they have a slight arch-support built in, and since I have small, narrow feet with a high arch, they're just right. I gave up "pretty" shoes years ago -- I simply cannot wear anything with more than a 1-inch heel, without plenty of padding or with a toe box that forces my toes together. Fortunately, I'm not in a profession that requires dressing up in a suit or dress and pumps every day, but sometimes I do miss wearing pretty shoes.

    Yes, we do what we gotta do. I've always found a hot foot-bath is soothing for sore, achy soles. Not a cure, mind you, but soothing. I hope yours stop hurting so much soon, Laurie.

    In the meantime, I hope your vacation continues to be the real R&R you were looking forward to. Enjoy!

  2. My husband read the same article ( he is a runner - maybe it was in the Toronto Star over Easter?). I also wear horribly old, soft and warm slippers around the house. I find sometimes too much time in my runners actually hurts my feet.

  3. Hi again Laurie,
    thanks for this entry on foot pain and shoes. This issue is awfully close to my heart. I'm happy to hear you're not suffering from foot-pain so much anymore. I even believe that as we continue to learn what is good for our feet and what medication works we will improve even more. Last year during my bad foot-pain phase I bought so many shoes because I was frustrated and brought to absolute dispair by that insane foot pain. I desperately tried to find that "perfect" pair of shoes that could give me my "freedom" (i.e. walking) back. I'd try them on in the store and would find out later that many still caused pain after wearing them for a day or two. I learned to keep my receipt so that I could return the culprit shoe if that was the case. I also donated many of my old shoes because I just couldn't tolerate them on my achy feet anymore. In the end, the shoes that saved my walk are made by El Naturalista (I'm sure all RA patients have a favorite breand that worked for them). I am going to try Rockport too (you had the name in your entry but I never tried the brand). As for support and no support...all I know is that I still get pain from all those flat shoes and flip-flops (that are very cute and "in" right now):( I had to laugh at your picture of the slippers. I have a pair that looks just like yours and my feet love them so much that I can't stop wearing guy keeps making jokes about them but I just don't care:) If his feet would hurt as ours do he wouldn't give a damn about their appearance. During the day I try to make the effort to not let my shoes give away my RA but at home I just want them pampered.

  4. Hey Wren, Megan & Mirela!

    For me, certain foot pain seems to be the result of definite extremes: too much support or too little, ie. wearing runners too much or wearing shoes with no padding at all on the soles.

    At times, though, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the whole foot pain thing and what I wear.

    For instance, my Rockport boots have been an absolute godsend since my diagnosis – not sure why, as they're not super padded and actually have a wedge heel (but they are spacey in front, so they did fit me even when my feet were quite swollen). But when I wore them yesterday, the balls of my feet got incredibly sore. Why? I've worn these same boots day in and day out all winter long with no problem.

    I think that must have been the result of the total randomness of RA.

    One thing is certain, however: the cute little silver ballet slippers I bought just last summer won't cut it now anywhere but at work, where there's carpeting. Boohoo!! :(


  5. At home I am always in a pair of slippers. My feet get incredibly cold so I have even started throwing them in a bag and taking them with me when I visit friends. If I have to wear shoes I have found Dansko clogs in the winter do wonders for my feet and in the summer I wear my Dansko or Ecco sandals. Anything else seems to be torture.

  6. When your feet hurt, you hurt all over. My feet have severe damage and I have talked to HR at work, but they don't care. I still have to wear steel toed boots, no exception. A good pair of shoes make all the difference in the world! I go barefoot around the house when my feet don't hurt too bad.

  7. Sorry to hear about your feet, Tharr.

    I'm lucky in that my feet aren't damaged so far, and I can wear whatever I want at work – even flip-flops!

    Hope you had a good weekend and are feeling better, and that you enjoyed the grilled chicken if you made it. Have a great week!

    :) L

  8. I can wear whatever I want at work, too, fortunately :) I love my good, supportive shoes with the orthotics in them, but nothing beats coming home and taking them off to just bare feet:) I wouldn't want to walk around all day in a city in flip flops, but they are my shoe of choice :)

  9. Hey Pony! Yeah, walking all day means a different choice of footwear than just sitting and walking wee bits, and walking on concrete definitely means a different choice! I'm actually just getting used to flip-flops myself – the whole thing between my toes usually bothers me, so I don't really wear them out, just around my place...

    Have a great week! :) L

  10. HI Laurie,
    Im mandy... I follow your blog, but never really post. I was just dx in december with RA... if you have issues with your feet check otut this blog... ... her name is Kirsten and she has RA. Her blog is devoted to shoes! its great! She is a very neat and cool person, as well. I have bought like 4 pairs of shoes based off her blog! hope it helps.!

  11. Hi Mandy,

    Thanks for commenting and for following. I'll definitely check that site out – it sounds great!

    Have a fabulous day!

    :) Laurie

  12. Funny I just read this portion of your blog and while on another blog about weight loss I happen to come across these :
    I was wondering if maybe these might help ?
    I have found recently , although i am still new to all this and STILL trying to find out what is going on w/ me . But after being on my feet most of the day at work when i get home or on the weekends my feet respond better to my cheap old navy flip flops. And living in Texas I have a TON Of them . So I prefer wearing them . Anyway thought you might look into these . they are pricey and look a little funny .

  13. Hey Mindy!

    Barefoot seems good for me, where possible (at home obviously!), but flipflops are also good where not too long a walk is involved. Other than that, comfy runners are good if style isn't too important. Other than that, I stick to super styling ballet flats for the most part, and, luckily, there are some really cute ones out there now!

    Have a great day!

    :) L