physiquality blog: buying the right shoe for whole-body health

This post actually came about as I’d asked one of our PTs about brands that offer comfortable yet stylish shoes. My mother has been having problems finding comfortable footwear and, like many women, didn’t like the looks of the shoes that doctors had recommended. Gini, at one time, had run a shoe store out of her PT clinic for this very reason — patients with foot and orthopedic problems were having a hard time finding stylish shoes that wouldn’t be bad for their health.

Once I had her advice for my mother in hand, I turned to our marketing director at Physiquality and suggested that more people would want to hear Gini’s advice, and he agreed.

Buying the right shoe for whole-body health

with advice from Virginia Davis, PT, MA

Buying the right shoe for your health

Whether you’re young or old, the wrong pair of shoes can lead to pain from (almost) your head to your toes. High heels can damage your back, knees and feet while increasing your risk for ankle sprains or breaks; they can also lead to arthritis, foot deformities, poor posture, plantar fasciitis and balance impairments. The lack of arch support and foot protection in flip-flops can lead to a number of issues, including tendinitis and stress fractures.

So how can you pick a pair of shoes that is good for your feet?

Look for flats or low wedges over high heels.Some women may not want to hear it, but the first step is to walk away from the high heels. Look for flats or low wedges; while a wedge helps to distribute the weight of your feet throughout the sole of the shoe, if its incline is more than an inch or two, it will still affect your body’s alignment, which can cause knee and back pain.

Both men and women should try to avoid thinking of comfortable or healthy shoes as orthopedic shoes. “The term ‘orthopedic shoes’ conjures up an image of a clunky, heavy and unattractive shoe to treat a medical condition,” says Brian Hoke, a physical therapist and a member of the Vasyli Medical Think Tank. This misperception is a big part of the problem in getting people into footwear that supports the natural anatomy and biomechanics of the foot. Brian notes that many manufacturers have embraced a much more fashion-forward approach to supportive footwear that blends fashion and function.

Physical therapist Gini Davis Agrees, asserting that it is possible to find footwear that is both stylish and comfortable. “Fashion does not have to go out the window because of foot pain, hard to fit feet, orthotics, or on-the-job comfort,” says Gini, owner of Crescent City Physical Therapy (a Physiquality member in New Orleans).

Aside from more widely-known brands like Taryn Rose (created by a podiatrist turned shoe designer) and Ecco, Gini recommends a variety of lesser-known brands that span a wide range of styles and prices:

  • Aravon by New Balance. Gini notes that these come in a variety of widths and are a great shoe in the mid-price range. “They have lots of styles, including some great walking shoes,” she adds.
  • Taos. The brand makes plenty of styles, but she recommends this brand, as well as La Plume and Comfort Club, for their sandals.
  • Image © Thierry RabotinMunro. Widely available at a variety of department stores, she advocates these because they come in several widths.
  • Naot. This brand out of Israel features engineered insoles and sturdy arch supports.
  • Thierry Rabotin. Made in Italy and the highest price point on her recommended list, these are her personal favorite. “If they are comfortable, they are worth the money,” says Gini, adding that they have lots of styles, including low heels and walking shoes.

If you’re trying on shoes at the local store and these brands aren’t available, Brian has a few tips to consider when selecting shoes:

  1. Look for a shoe with a solid heel counter (the insert used to reinforce the heel cup of a shoe and to increase support). Squeeze the heel region; if you can make the sides of the heel area touch, this is not a good counter.
  2. Check the natural flex point of the shoe. Put the shoe on end and push down to see where the shoe bends. It should not bend in the arch area, but it should have a natural bend at the ball of the foot.
  3. Look for a shoe with a removable insole. Some insoles are simply a layer of cheap foam, while others are contoured to fit the natural anatomy of the foot. If the person wears an orthotic (a prescription insole to better meet the person’s individual needs) the factory insole can be removed and the custom insole or orthotic can be placed into the shoe.

Gini advises that you should think about how your shoes will affect your health when considering your next footwear purchase. “Shoes are the most important item in your wardrobe,” she says. “When your feet hurt, everything else suffers.”


Virginia Davis, PT, MA, is a physical therapist and owner at Crescent City Physical Therapy, a Physiquality network member in New Orleans, Louisiana. A foot/ankle specialist with more than 35 years of experience, she is also a board member of PTPN, the nation’s premier network of rehabilitation therapists in independent practice, and the parent company of Physiquality.

Brian Hoke, PT, DPT, SCS, is the director and co-owner of Atlantic Physical Therapy in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Brian is a member of the Vasyli Medical Think Tank, a select group of medical professionals committed to educating clinicians in the role of biomechanics in injuries. Vasyli‘s U.S. distributor for PTs and other healthcare professionals is Patterson Medical, a vendor partner of Physiquality’s parent company, PTPN.

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For further reading, look through our selection of articles on health and wellness, in addition to the below links:

Schneider-Levy, Barbara. Foot therapy. WWD Marketplace, January 14, 2013.

Jacobs, Deborah L. How to find comfortable shoes that don’t compromise style., September 6, 2012.

Keep flip-flops from “going wild” this season. American Podiatric Medical Association, May 25, 2012.

physiquality blog: choosing a physical therapist that measures outcomes

Outcomes is becoming a more and more popular term in healthcare. While we often hear about using outcomes to reward high achieving providers, I think this post was a good reminder that measuring outcomes is beneficial for patients as well.

Choosing a physical therapist that measures outcomes

with advice from Mitch Kaye, PT
and Kristina Holland, PTA

If you don’t work in the healthcare industry, you may have heard the term “outcomes” but not understood what it meant. Why is measuring outcomes beneficial for both patients and healthcare providers?

First of all, what are outcomes? Simply put, measuring outcomes means measuring how successful a particular treatment is, whether in physical therapy or another field in healthcare. Kristina Holland, a physical therapist assistant at Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality member in Tennessee), says, “When physical therapists measure their patients’ ‘outcomes,’ they are answering the question, ‘Has therapy helped my patient to function better?'” By collecting data on a variety of treatments over a period of time, physical therapists (and other healthcare providers) will have data that tells them what the most successful treatments are.

Read the full entry at!

physiquality blog: how to deal with ankle sprains

As someone who took six months to heal from a bad ankle sprain that happened six weeks after giving birth, I now know that sprains are no casual injury. Ever since my sprain, I’ve wanted to know more about how to decide when to see the doctor (Hint: Waiting six months is a bit too long) and what physical therapists can do for such an injury. Here’s what our experts had to say.

How to deal with ankle sprains

with advice from Kate Chewning, PT, DPT,
Maria Fermoile, PT, DPT, OCS
and Tenille Policastro, PT, DPT

Ankle sprains are a common injury. They can occur during strenuous activity, like playing a sport, or something as simple as missing a step down from a curb.

If you’ve injured your ankle, Kate Chewning, a physical therapist at Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy (a Physiquality member in Pennsylvania) reminds you to R.I.C.E.:

  • Rest. Kate recommends trying to stay off your feet. She says, “Don’t walk or put too much weight on your affected ankle, as this will only increase the stress to your ligaments,” increasing the time it will take to heal.

  • Ice. Application of an ice bag, cold gel pack, or similar item will aid in decreasing inflammation while also helping with pain relief. Kate advises making your own ice massager by freezing water in a paper cup. Simply tear back the edges of the cup to apply the ice to the skin in a circular motion.

Read the full entry at!

physiquality blog: helping patients with Parkinson’s disease stay active

One of the better assignments in my range of topics for my physical therapy clients is to trumpet the success of one of their programs. As a frequent flyer through some great PT clinics, I am always happy to show off some of the more unusual work that these healthcare experts do.

Before I heard about Jory Davis at Conshohocken PT, I never would have thought that a physical therapist could help Parkinson’s patients; it’s a neurological disease. But apparently Jory has become certified in a new technique that helps those with Parkinson’s disease. The exercises she does with her patients helps to retrain the brain and improve the patients’ mobility.

I can only imagine how much this helps those patients achieve more in their daily lives and feel more confident and independent as they go through their day. Read on to hear about what Jory has been doing at her clinic in Pennsylvania.

Helping patients with Parkinson’s disease stay active

Many people think of physical therapists as healthcare specialists that only focus on orthopedic injuries and rehabilitation. While generally all PTs are qualified to do that, many choose to specialize in related care, such as helping people with edema after treatment for cancer, working with older patients or patients in acute care, or focusing on patients struggling with a specific disease, like Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that can make daily movement and activities frustrating and time-consuming. PTs can play a vital role in managing the effects of Parkinson’s disease by helping an individual stay as active and as independent as possible.

Read the full entry at!

physiquality blog: preventing injuries

While no fitness program can completely prevent injury, there are many ways to reduce your risks of injury, especially when it comes to athletic conditioning. I talked to two of our partners about some of the many ways to focus on prevention at home, at the gym and at the physical therapy clinic.

Preventing injuries

with advice from Joyce Klee, PT,
Anna Dark,
and Mark Salandra, CSCS

Many people think of physical therapy clinics as a place to recover from injury, or a place to do rehabilitation after an operation. But many physical therapy clinics are now offering a broader range of services, shifting their attention to both prevention of and recovery from injury and illness.

Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality member in Clinton, Tennessee, launched their wellness program, now known as the Take Charge Fitness Program, 20 years ago in 1995. It was originally intended as a bridge program for clients who had reached the end of physical therapy, but weren’t quite ready to exercise on their own. “Many of the people who come here need supervision that they can’t get at a health club,” says co-owner Joyce Klee. “We can cater their exercise programs to specific health issues, whether they are orthopedic or neurological problems, or other issues, like obesity.”

Read the full entry at!