Shoes for Happy Feet

As a former dancer and current cute shoe enthusiast (let me just pop into Nordstroms and see what’s on sale…) I am admittedly not the poster child for healthy footwear.   As a child I begged my mom for the latest cool boots instead of my dorky sadle oxfords even though getting them on my feet meant me lying on the bed and her using a pair of pliers and some serious muscle.

I am lucky to be genetically gifted with healthy, albeit wide, feet.  I cannot say the same for several of my clients.  If you suffer from hammer toes, bunions, plantar faciatis (or more often fasciosis according to Dr McClanahan, more on that later) or a host of other foot ailments, one solution may be changing your footwear.


Dr Ray McClanahan of Northwest Foot and Ankle here in Portland recommends shoes that are flat, wide across the toes, and flexible.  He has a healthy shoe list on his website with millions of shoe options.

I admit I could go the rest of my life without seeing another adult in crocs, however the Noat  mary janes are super cute.


Ok now back to the faciosis.  Dr Ray claims that most people are misdiagnosed and that the tissue in your foot in not inflamed, it is suffering from lack of blood flow, or necrosis.  In other words dead tissue (I know, gross).  This may be the result of our toes being abducted and extended for long periods of time.  Take a look at the toe spring in the front of a typical running shoe – not a recipe for happy feet.

I usually spend the majority of my day barefoot.  I realize not all of us have this luxury.  If you are suffering from unhappy feet experiment with one of these shoe styles and see if this brings you some pain relief.

I have several clients on a foot heath program that involves exercises, stretches, heat and ice.  Contact me if you would like more information.


  1. Agreed about the Crocs!. . .especially in the more unnatural and neon colors- not my fave. However, I have recently discovered a solid purpose for them: they are great to take while backpacking, as the “sit-around-camp-wearing-something-other-than-your-hiking-boots” shoes. Because they are so light and you can wear socks with them (as opposed to flip flops) they are perfectly suited to the task.

  2. Thanks ML! I’m glad you found a good use for Crocs.

    This wide toe box idea goes hand in hand with the concept of spreading and relaxing the toes that we are always trying to achieve in yoga. Where is your next hiking trip?

  3. Hi!. Thanks for the blog. I’ve been digging around for info, but i think i’m getting lost!. Yahoo lead me here – good for you i suppose! Keep up the great information. I will be popping back over in a few days to see if there is updated posts.

  4. Thanks for checking out my Blog! What specifically are you looking for? I know it’s easy to get sucked into the quicksand of web searches.

    The focus of my business is weight loss and pain relief through a combination of Pilates, yoga and massage therapy. I try to update my posts weekly so please do check back.


  5. Hello! I like your blog. I’m a Rolfer who works closely with Dr. McClanahan. I have a 2-page article on my site that explains what to look for in shoes. Also, I teach a 90 minute class ($25 in advance) on healthy shoes. People bring in their shoes and we take a look and talk about the reasons why this stuff is important.

    Regarding plantar fascia pain, definitely the necrosis is a factor. But that doesn’t explain the pain, which I think is caused by the plantar nerve being irritated. Also, wearing shoes with heels can be a culprit…. The fascia of the bottom of the foot is connected to the whole back line of the body, up through the hamstrings, back, and neck, up to your forehead! So wearing a 1/2 heel every day, especially in your athletic shoes, holds all that fascia short and tight. Then when you shift to neutral shoes, the plantar fascia and Achilles complain. Some traditional podiatrists blame going barefoot, but that’s backwards! Blame the heels. 🙂

    Food for thought – Sincerely,
    Karin Edwards

  6. Thanks Karin!

    Good stuff. I will let my clients know about your healthy shoe classes.


  7. Hey cool blog! Check mine out sometime (FeetTreats)!! I am also a dancer and my blog has to do with foot health/shoes 🙂
    All the best!

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