This usually occurs from an imbalanced postural or movement pattern, such as how you walk, run or stand. Areas of greater wear on the bottom of shoes correlates with where the pressure is greatest under your feet. When the body is in mid-line, your weight should be evenly balanced across your feet. If a person has a tendency towards standing on one foot more, or rolling their ankles in or out while walking or running, the wear pattern on the bottom of your shoes will mirror this. This asymmetry usually is a result of an imbalance with muscle strength, flattened or high arches, joint mobility, and posture when walking.
The body is always trying to stay in mid-line. When an imbalance occurs, other areas of the body begin to compensate. For example, when your left ankle rolls in (called pronation), the left leg will shorten causing the pelvis to side bend to the left. To over compensate this imbalance, the trunk and shoulders will side bend to the right followed by the neck and head side bending to the left, as demonstrated in the image below.
So even though an uneven wear pattern on your shoes may seem minor, even the slightest of non-optimal changes can affect the whole body, thus creating a posture and movement imbalance. If undetected, problems can arise (i.e. foot and heel pain, plantar fasciitis, knee instability, wearing of the joints, hip pain, tension and pain in the low back and neck).
Even if the wear pattern is slight, if untreated, may develop into more severe symptoms that will affect tolerance to exercise, standing, and daily activities.
So what would a person do? Some options are:
- Go to your local shoe store and get properly fitted for the type of shoe that best supports your gait pattern.
- Purchase orthotics for additional arch support. Many times shoe stores will offer a variety of different brands for arch supports, which are more affordable than custom orthotics, and a nice option for children and teenagers whose foot size is still changing.
- Make an appointment with a physical therapist to have your walking or running pattern observed. Through an evaluation, your PT will be able to determine what is the cause and give you exercises to help bring more balance to the muscular-skeletal system, optimize posture, and treat any symptoms that may be occurring.