Your shoes can be the piece de resistance of your ensemble, but the reality is that your shoes are more than just an accessory. If you’re a dock worker, steel-toed shoes might save your toes from injuries, and if you’re hiking upstate in the Adirondacks, high-top hiking boots can save you from twisting your ankle.
Just like the right footwear can save your feet from injuries, the wrong footwear can cause pain.
Below, our team of specialists here at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, in Midtown and Downtown Manhattan, explain how improper footwear can play a role in foot pain.
What shoes cause the most problems?
If you’ve ever had a blister on your toe or on the back of your heel, you’re not alone. Ill-fitting shoes are notorious for causing blisters, but that’s just one example of foot problems caused by shoes. Improper footwear can cause arch pain, and they can even exacerbate other foot conditions such as bunions or corns.
The five most problematic shoes are high heels (especially stilettos), pointy shoes, flip-flops, shoes that aren’t designed for your activity, and unsupportive shoes.
1. High heels and stilettos
High heel shoes might be a fashionista dream, but they’re a nightmare for your feet. The added height of the heel places more stress on the balls of your feet, and the higher the heel, the more pressure is exerted.
For example, a three-inch heel increases the pressure on the balls of your feet by 75%. Not only can these lead to sore feet, but they can also increase your risk of future issues with your ligaments and tendons.
Wearing high heels on a daily basis also increases your risk of stress fractures in your metatarsal bones, sesamoid bones, and toe bones. Blisters and bunion pain are also made worse by wearing high heels.
2. Narrow shoes
Pointy shoes are trending, but they can contribute to foot pain. To create the desired point, the toe bed must be narrow, and unfortunately, a narrow toe bed squeezes your toes together unnaturally. Consistently wearing pointy shoes (even if they don’t have a high heel) can increase your risk of developing bunions and hammertoes.
While you’re probably not wearing flip-flops outside in December in New York, you may be tempted to grab a pair to wear in public locker rooms. Flip-flops are convenient, fit nicely into your gym bag, and protect you against contracting fungal infections. Yet, these are some of the least supportive shoes available.
Flip-flops are notorious for causing pain because they:
- Offer no arch support
- Create friction on the toe strap that often leads to blisters
- Force your toes to curl as you walk
- Provide little traction, increasing your risk of slipping
- Alter your gait and impact your ankle health
You don’t have to abandon the idea of sandals, though. The best sandals feature adjustable straps, arch support and heel support, and good traction. Many sandals are waterproof, which are perfect for public showers and locker rooms.
4. Wearing the wrong shoes for your activity
Even high-quality shoes can lead to pain if you’re not wearing the right shoes for your designated activity. For example, basketball shoes feature ankle support to protect your ankles against the quick stop-and-start motions in basketball. Running shoes designed for trail running are different from running shoes designed for tracks.
The takeaway: always wear the right gear (including shoes) when engaging in recreational activities. Not only does this protect your feet, but it reduces your chance of other sports injuries too.
5. Shoes without support
Your shoes should provide enough cushion and arch support to keep your feet comfortable. Some people have high arches, while others have low arches. Wearing shoes without the right arch support can lead to plantar fasciitis. If your feet are flat, you may find that custom orthotics provide the additional support you need.
In addition to wearing shoes with proper arch support, your shoes should be breathable (to prevent fungal growth) and the right size. Shoe sizes can vary from brand to brand, so it’s not a bad idea to receive a professional shoe fitting when you’re investing in a new pair of shoes.
What to do if your foot pain isn’t going away
Sometimes, all it takes is a shoe shopping trip to make your feet happy, but what happens if you switch your shoes and still experience pain? At Manhattan Podiatry Associates, we’re happy to provide comprehensive foot care when you need it most.
Schedule your appointment today by calling our location closest to you. You can also request an appointment at any time via our online scheduling tool.