new mexico, orthopedics

How to Pick Walking Shoes When You Have Knee Pain

Article By Jodie Helmer | Found on WebMD

You’d never go for a walk wearing high heels or flip flops, right? You might be surprised to learn that wearing the wrong walking shoes could be just as bad for your knees.“Your shoes affect the amount of impact your knee takes with every step,” says Matt Minard, DPT, a physical therapist and orthopaedic specialist with Carolinas Healthcare System. “The right shoes are the first line of defense in dealing with knee pain.”All walking shoes aren’t the same. They can vary in how much cushioning and support they offer. The design also affects how the shoe feels and whether it creates pressure points on the foot, which can affect your walk and, in turn, worsen knee pain.

What Works?

While some shoes claim their extra cushioning and special insoles can ease knee pain, research shows these “enhanced” shoes might not be effective.

A 2016 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine studied 164 adults with knee osteoarthritis and found that there was no difference in knee pain between those who walked in enhanced shoes and those who wore regular walking shoes.

“There is no one brand that is best,” Minard says. “It’s all about how your foot fits in a particular shoe and how it affects your stride.”

A walking shoe might not always be the best option, says Bryan Heiderscheit, PhD, professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Walking shoes can be more rigid and stiff, and that can interfere with your normal stride pattern and change the load on your knee, making pain worse,” Heiderscheit says. “A running shoe might offer more cushion and flexibility. If you have knee pain, you need to think beyond a stereotypical stiff leather walking shoe.”

How to Choose

Minard suggests shopping for walking shoes at a specialty retail shop where the staff will look at the structure of your foot, watch you walk, and make recommendations based on your specific needs. The right shoe for someone with flat feet is different from the right shoe for someone with high arches, for example.

In general, look for shoes that are flexible. Heiderscheit recommends that you pick up a shoe and flex the toe toward the laces. A good walking shoe should flex easily. A shoe that’s hard to bend will restrict your foot, change your stride, and worsen knee pain.

Also check the soles for changes in height from the toe to heel. The shift should be subtle.

“A shoe that is higher heel affects the bend of the knee and puts extra pressure on the joint,” Minard says.

A walking shoe designed with a thicker sole and rigid structure, known as a stability shoe, increases the load on the knee compared with walking barefoot or wearing flexible sneakers with thinner soles.

Sole width and flexibility aside, the most important thing to focus on when choosing a walking shoe is comfort.

“Buy the shoe that fits best and feels best,” says Rajwinder Deu, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Johns Hopkins University. “All of us have certain styles and brands that fit us better.”

You may have to try on several pairs of walking shoes to find the one that fits best.

When to Shop

To get the right fit, try on shoes in the evening. Your feet swell throughout the day and will be their largest late in the day. Wear the same socks you wear during a walk. Lace up each pair and walk around the store. Pay attention to how the shoe feels.

“The right shoe will be comfortable right away,” Minard says. “You shouldn’t have to break in a walking shoe.”

Found one that works? “Stick with it,” Deu says.

When to Replace Them

Unlike running shoes, which you should replace every 300 to 500 miles, walking shoes absorb less force and can last much longer. As a general rule, walking shoes can last up to 9 months, Heiderscheit says.

To know when it’s time to replace your walking shoes, Heiderscheit suggests that you look at the soles: When the tread pattern is worn down, the heel is worn more on one side than the other. This can cause your foot to shift, which puts extra pressure on your knees. And when there are dimples in the side or bottom of the sole because the cushioning has broken down, it’s time for new shoes.

“Shoes play an important role in the mechanics of your stride,” Heiderscheit says. “The wrong shoe can change how you walk and put more pressure on the knee, making the pain worse. It’s worth it to invest in finding the right pair of walking shoes.”

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Mycotic Septic Arthritis of the Ankle Joint

Authors’ Disclosure Statement: The authors report no actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to this article.
Septic arthritis is a debilitating acute orthopedic emergency. Unfortunately, the diagnosis can be delayed or missed in immunocompromised patients with diabetes mellitus, and the result can be catastrophic. These patients are also at risk for atypical infections, including mycotic subtypes, which are more insidious than their more aggressive, more common Staphylococcus counterparts. The result is increased morbidity. In this article, we report a case of Candida albicans septic arthritis in a patient with diabetes mellitus and rheumatoid arthritis. Her case highlights the complexities of this specific disease entity. With early diagnosis, treatment is multimodal, involving surgical débridement and prolonged antifungal therapy.

Read more

Holiday Safety

Article Featured on Ortho Info

Many common holiday activities can cause injuries that can make any festive season anything but jolly.

For example, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 68,000 visits to doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, and clinics in 2015 for injuries related to holiday decorating and decorations. This includes everything from falls while hanging lights and other decorations to hand and other extremity injuries due to artificial trees and stands, lights, and other adornments.

Read more

Juvenile Arthritis

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

About 1 child in every 1,000 develops some type of juvenile arthritis. These disorders can affect children at any age, although rarely in the first six months of life. It is estimated that around 300,000 children in the United States have been diagnosed with the condition.

Read more


Melissa Gaethje, DPT, PT, will be joining the New Mexico Orthopaedics physical therapy team on Monday, November 4th, 2013. Melissa will be treating patients at our downtown therapy clinic, located on Lead avenue, about a block due south of the Presbyterian Hospital.

Melissa is currently contracted to treate Medicare, Medicaid, and workers’ compensation patients. She will be contracted with more insurance carriers soon. Welcome Melissa!


This week is National Medical Assistants Recognition Week, and New Mexico Orthopaedics would like to take a moment to thank all medical assistants across the country, but most especially, we’d like to thank our hard-working medical assistant staff for all that they do for us! Thank you MA’s everywhere. What you do is difficult and important and usually comes with long and exhausting hours. We appreciate you!


New Mexico Orthopaedics would like to recognize National Radiologic Technology Week this week by thanking all the hard-working ‘rad techs’ out there in the medical industry. We would especially like to thank our hard-working group of techs here at NMO! Thank you, Thank you!


New Mexico Orthopaedics Coding and Charge Entry Manager, Angelica Stephens, was recently interviewed by For the Record Magazine, for an article on poor coding habits in the medical industry. We’ve included the link for anyone interested in reading the article.


After 31 years of helping rehabilitate patients throughout Albuquerque and surrounding areas, Dr. Edward J. Atler is retiring. His final day with New Mexico Orthopaedics is Friday, January 31st, 2014. He will be recognized for his service with a lunch in his honor, attended by fellow physicians and the entire staff of NM Orthopaedics. Thank you so much, Dr. Atler, for all you’ve done. We wish you well in your retirement and will miss you. Happy trails!



New Mexico Orthopaedics is proud to support a number of local organizations throughout the state. Our philanthropy recently issued our 2014 donations to the following groups:

Presbyterian Hospice Care, Roadrunner Food Bank, ACCION New Mexico, Metropolitan Homeless Project, Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity, Presbyterian Ear Institute, ARCA of Albuquerque, NDI New Mexico, Duke City Wheelmen Foundation, Parade of  Playhouses, Project Humane, 516 Arts, Music Guild of New Mexico, and UNM Foundation/Popejoy Schooltime series.

We’d like to thank these organizations for all they do to make New Mexico a better place to live!