Orthotic-friendly fashion footwear

by - August 17, 2022

Not my feet, I have bad sock tan line and chubby legs. Stock photo from Frankie4 of a style I wear.

I have a tendency to ignore my ailments until they're kind of a big deal, like that time I used to wake up feeling tight in the legs and struggling to walk down the stairs every morning and then hurt my lower back when it could have been prevented if I'd just went to a physiotherapist and learned how to stretch out my hip flexor. Yeah, like that.

These days I'm trying to be less of a stiff upper lip, suck-it-up, tough-it-out type. When I noticed an ache in my left big toe joint and the beginnings of a bunion, I chose to not follow my dumb instincts to ignore the pain just in case it goes away on its own, and instead sought professional help. A podiatrist kitted me with custom orthotics and explained how my pigeon-toed left leg was putting massive pressure on the joint. Over time I'll get arthritis where the bone is grinding but if I wear the orthotics and do daily toe stretches it'll help delay the onset of arthritis.

Fun fact from the podiatrist: You inherit your walk from your parents! I must have inherited Mum Pham's walk because she had severe bunions. Looking back I wish I knew she was in pain, and could have had surgery to fix her feet, and we weren't broke and we could afford surgery - ah, wishful hindsight.

Obviously, I used my new orthotics as an excuse to cull my shoe collection of anything too narrow to fit orthotics. I gifted newish shoes to my local Buy Nothing community, and binned crappy old sneakers. Then Boyfriend Pham took me on a shopping spree because I was sad and shoeless. 

Boy-oh, shoes with arch support are expensive. He drove me to two Frankie4 stores to try on shoes that fit my orthotics. I purchased two pairs - each cost 2.5x what I'd normally pay for work brogues. I also got Birkenstock Arizona to wear around the house - they're only 20x the cost of a pair of cheap, plastic slides. Once I learned my orthotic shoe size is 39 instead of my previous 38, I also tried Bared Footwear online - they have stores in Melbourne, but not in Brisbane...yet. 

While I cringe at the $1500+ I dropped getting custom orthotics and new footwear because I'm a tight-arse, I am grateful to be in a position where I can afford healthcare, and supportive footwear. Things Mum Pham didn't get to have, but raised us kids to work hard so we had better options in life. Also, today is the anniversary of Mum's passing so that's probably why I keep thinking of her even though I'm writing about my feet, which look like Dad Pham's.

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