The Worst Shoes for Your Feet

June 23, 2021

You use your feet every day. To keep your feet healthy and pain-free, they need protection and support. Poor footwear choices can cause painful foot problems, says Richard Goldstein, DPM, FACFAS, a podiatrist and podiatric surgeon at the Wound Care Center at Pascack Valley Medical Center.

What to Know About the Shoes You Wear

  • High Heels: Heel heights over three inches, especially for stiletto-style heels, move your weight from your heel (which was designed to handle it) to the ball of your foot. If you must wear high heels, minimize the time you spend standing or walking in them. Wear smarter shoes for other times like when you are walking to work. Take off your heels when your feet are out of sight and wiggle your toes. Chunky heels provide more stability.
  • Ballet Flats: They may be popular and fashionable right now, but they don’t provide support or cushioning. If you love the look, Dr. Goldstein suggests inserting an orthotic device to provide foot-protecting benefits.
  • Pointy-toed Shoes: Whether they are heels or flats, the pointy toe-box in a shoe can cause neuroma, an inflammation resulting from squishing the toes together in too small a space. Neuroma can cause pain, burning and tingling, possibly requiring surgical intervention.
  • Flip-flops: Men and women find these inexpensive, lightweight shoes convenient. Commonly available flip-flops offer no arch support, and the curling action of your toes as your foot tries to hold onto them as you walk can lead to hammertoe, a painful condition. Still, they are a good choice for the beach because they protect feet from burns from hot sand and injuries from sharp shells.
  • Mules: Mules bring the same problems as flip-flops. Mules with heels may make the wearer more susceptible to injury to the Achilles tendon.
  • Rubber/Plastic Shoes: This footwear has the benefit of being washable and offering some support. Use them for gardening and beach wear.
  • Sneakers: If you are participating in a sport like basketball or running, get sneakers specifically designed for it. For many people, a cross-trainer sneaker will provide superior everyday support and protection compared to a low-budget sneaker.

If you have fallen victim to ill-fitting shoes that cause pain, deformity or skin problems, make an appointment with your doctor for evaluation and necessary treatment to correct the problems before they can threaten your ability to walk comfortably.

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.