Wearing different shoes styles is an excellent way to compliment an outfit—but sometimes the cost of fashion includes more than just the price of the shoe. Stylish shoes can also cost you your comfort by causing foot and joint pain.
Read on to learn how different shoe styles can cause foot and joint pain and ways to prevent the pain.
High heels cause the most pain
High heels cause the most foot and joint pain. Wearing high heels forces the toes into a downward position. This creates excessive pressure on the ball of the foot and can aggravate some preexisting issues, such as
A higher heel (usually more than 2 inches) also puts more strain on the metatarsal bones that could lead to a
stress fracture. More heel pain is also associated with wearing high heels for a longer period.
To wear high heels comfortably, choose a shoe with a lower heel height and wider toe, and limit the time you wear high heels.
Flats need cushioning
A flexible ballet flat or flat shoe may sometimes be better. This is actually a good option for people with
knee osteoarthritis. Just make sure the shoe is cushioned. If you have arthritis in your feet, you will probably be better off with sturdier shoes, such as sneakers.
When shopping for flats, look for shoes that:
- are flexible but not too easy to contort
- have good arch support
- have strong cushioning (you can add an insole for more comfort)
- have good shock absorption
Flip-flops can cause falls and blisters
Like flats, flip-flops may also be good for people with knee osteoarthritis. Flip-flops are popular when it gets warm outside. However, flip-flops are less stable and can increase chances of falling. Flip-flops can also cause toe blisters.
To prevent tripping, look for flip-flops that only bend at the ball of the foot and don't bend in half. To reduce blistering, don't wear them for too long, and wear ones made with high-quality soft leather. There are many more options these days for sandals and flip-flops, so be sure to choose wisely.
Boots can be like high heels
Wearing boots can be an option for people with
ankle arthritis or other ankle pain, because they help stabilize the foot. However, boots with a higher heel can cause similar muscle and joint pain as standard high heels.
To wear boots comfortably, choose a shoe with a lower heel height. Rubber-soled wedge heels or flat boots with good arch support are good options.
Even athletic shoes can lead to injury
Sneakers, gym shoes, or whatever you call them – buying the right athletic shoes with the proper fit can also help in preventing injuries.
Do your research and buy the right shoe. Construction varies to meet the needs for individual sports. Also, be sure to buy the right fit. Try your shoes on in the store and be fitted by a clerk who can help you select the right size and shoes for your feet and even your gait. Get sized later in the day when your feet are more swollen and be sure to wear socks similar to those you’ll normally wear with the shoes.
Finally, be sure to replace your shoes after heavy use. For runners, that’s generally after 300-500 miles. For other athletes, it’s after about 300 hours of working out. A good frame of reference is when your tread begins to show noticeable wear.
Use extra support when needed
Depending on your foot architecture, you may need some additional support even in the best shoes. There are many over-the-counter orthotic options that can provide additional support for many people. Ask your doctor if you have questions about which supports are best for you.
Learn more about orthopaedics & sports medicine at The Christ Hospital.