Guest blog by Lisa Preston of ShoeMed
Heel-to-toe rocker sole shoes are often recommended for people with hallux (big toe) stiffness, ankle injuries and arthritic changes in their feet. The shoe outsole is not made with a square heel, or with hard materials. As the name implies, a rocker sole shoe is designed to rock the foot forwards. However, a rocker sole can come in many different brands and shapes, so it is important to understand the basic principle to decide whether this is the best option for you.
The concept of a heel-to-toe rocker sole shoe is to:
- Redistribute pressures on the foot – reducing peak pressures
- Provide shock absorption
- Encourage a more energy efficient gait pattern
- Reduce flexion of the shoe at the ball joint position
An example of a gentle, stable, heel-to-toe rocker sole shoe for people with heel pain, restricted range of motion of the ankle joint, forefoot arthritis and perhaps Morton’s neuroma is shown in this image. The heel is slightly bevelled, which encourages the foot to start rolling forwards at heel strike, also absorbing shock on the heel and ankle. Also the heel is not too low. At the mid-stance phase, the shoe has a flat point for balance. This is not found in all rocker sole shoes, therefore some are very unstable and not advisable for anybody with balance issues.
The ‘last’ which this shoe is made over is wide and deep, and also there is a removable footbed, so if your podiatrist has made foot orthoses for you, these can be fitted in if required.
The forefoot area is then designed to encourage a swift roll through at the toe off phase, alleviating peak pressures on the forefoot. Importantly, the outsole material is made of a material called polyurethane, which is a good quality material which does not ‘bottom out’ or collapse with wear, which is a problem on other cheaper and less quality shoes. Often you can watch people walking in a shoe which looks like it has a thick cushioning sole, but they are over-pronating with every step, as the material is too soft.
Before you choose to buy a rocker sole shoe, you should ask yourself:
- What is my balance like?
- Do I want a completely stiff rocker sole shoe?
- Do I want to use my foot orthoses with the shoes?
- Have I got a standard foot, or do I require extra width and/or depth?
- Can I visit a shop to try the shoes on, rather than purchasing online?
This blog was written for Kenilworth Footcare by Lisa Preston of ShoeMed, based in Stratford. If you have problem in finding the right shoes for your feet, then get in touch with ShoeMed. More information about ShoeMed can be found on their website