How to Wear Different Shoe Styles Comfortably

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 bunions.

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- 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 is a great 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.

Learn more about orthopaedics & sports medicine at The Christ Hospital. 

​Dr. Wu earned his B.S. in biomedical engineering from Duke University where he graduated magna cum laude and his medical degree from Ohio State University. He completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at Indiana University and his fellowship in foot and ankle surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.