I am not sure about others but I used to suffer from knee pain on the days I was overweight. Another reason was because I could not give up iced drinks then. So, I bought expensive shoes that are said to be designed for user comfort and worth the price to be paid for. There are brands like Snowfly, Clarks, Hush Puppies, Scholl- with the shoes costing in the rage of RM150 to RM300 plus (up to almost USD100 a pair).
Due my way of walking that causes unnatural distribution of weight, coupled with the lack of lady-like way I normally walk, my expensive shoes generally become almost unwearable after about 3 months. So every 3 months or so, I have to fork out another few hundred bucks for yet another pair of expensive shoes. I also paid a few hundred for specially designed orthotics, shoes that are designed to take into account of the arch on my feet. Those days were okay- I led a highly stressed job that paid well. My circle of friends, a number of them who also suffered from knee pain also invested heavily in shoes- in fact, it was through them that I knew which brands to buy.
But these shoes did nothing much to reduce the knee discomfort. Still, I had placed my trust in the perceived value- after all, if it is expensive, it should be good. I’ve never looked beyond anything inexpensive.
When I left my job and started travelling, someone gave me a pair of Bata slippers when my expensive orthotics slippers got torn at the straps. And I was amazed that the slippers were much more comfortable than my expensive sandals- it cost less than 100 baht (USD 3). I could walk long distance in them and through uneven and slippery terrains- once I was living in remote areas.
After that, I focused on comfort when it comes to buying shoes. In my opinion, we may be misled that we need expensive shoes- but we actually don’t. And once I look beyond, I found many more comfortable looking shoes for 1/3 or less than what I paid for. And these shoes often come in all kinds of designs.
If you looked at expensive branded sandals that are often worn by ladies with knee pain, you would notice that the back of the shoes are at a higher angle than the front. I was told that if you walk for a long time on these sandals, you actually end up hurting your knees more. The best, I was told, are sandals or slippers that are completely flat.
Recently at the local market, I have bought the most comfortable pair of slippers- for only RM5 a pair (about USD 1.50). The slippers are so comfortable that I wear them to anywhere that allowed slippers to be worn. Never mind about the perception of others-it’s the comfort that matters. However, I do admit that soft slippers would change shape according to the weight distribution- so if the weight is unevenly distributed (usually the case because of posture & muscle imbalance that causes the knee pain)
Another article that I would want to recommend is Dr Bookspan’s article on knee pain. She said that it is important we learn to walk correctly the entire day and take note of habits that could place a lot of strain on our knees.
And losing weight really, really helps. Now, my weight is nearing the ideal weight for my height, I seldom take cold drinks anymore or bath at night. I learned to walk in a more correct angle and there has since been lots of improvement on my knees.
Update @ March 2012: Well, I must say that we pay for what we get… for inexpensive shoes, it tend to follow the pressure you exert and yield accordingly. Therefore, if you walk with more pressure on the inner side of your foot, an inexpensive and non orthotic shoes would form an imbalance tilt on the side that had more pressure- therefore it may even aggreviate the condition. For instance, the Bata Comfort shoes would tilt to one side if the wearer exerts additional pressure on parts of the shoes. Whereas a specially made shoe sole that may cost a few thousand dollars would not yield to the pressure. I have to admit when there are new discoveries and observations.