Are Your Favorite Shoes Bad for You? Why Footwear Matters

We’ve all done it: squeezed our feet into some shoes that look better than they feel. Maybe we tell ourselves we just need to “break them in” or we’ll “only” wear them to the wedding/dance/party. Either way, we end up with aching calves, sore feet, and maybe a blister (or two). Or maybe you’re stuck wearing fashionable shoes all day at work, only to rip them off the minute you get home – and are dismayed when your stubborn plantar fasciitis pain flares up again. Sometimes it’s just shoes that don’t work for you – and you end up with aches and pains that surprise you because you thought you chose ‘healthier’ shoes. Or maybe it’s those long-time summer favorites: the flip flop. You wander every summer weekend in your favorite bargain pair and happen to notice leg and back pain at the same time…

All these scenarios have one thing in common: the shoes you’ve chosen don’t work: for your body, your feet, and your comfort, they just don’t.  You don’t have to search very far online to find yourself stuck in the middle of shoe debates: less is more, or more is more! Go barefoot and run without shoes – or wear shoes designed with carbon fiber and cutting edge support! There are shoes for every activity: running, walking, basketball, golf, tennis, hiking, biking, and beyond. It’s hard to filter the noise and know what shoes you should wear. Even if you find the perfect shoe for your favorite activity, chances are that you won’t be wearing it to the office. So what’s a shoe-lover to do? Check out the risks of ill-fitting or unhealthy shoes and then tips for your next shoe shopping trip.

Risks of Unhealthy Shoes

High/er Heels can cause calf pain and even back pain

High/er Heels can increase calf muscle tightness

High/er Heels can lead to plantar fasciitis

Higher heels change walking mechanics, which can increase the risk of leg, hip, and back pain

Pointy-toe boxes can increase the risk of developing bunions

Narrow shoes can cause toe irritation

Shoes without any support (like most flip flops) can cause pain – from foot pain to back pain

Narrow shoes can irritate/contribute to conditions like bunions, hammertoes, and/or nerve conditions

Ill-fitting shoes can cause blisters

Tips for Finding Shoes that Fit:

If you can’t give up heels, look for shoes with a platform base so the height isn’t as great

Wear heeled shoes for as little time as possible during your day, and consider wearing athletic shoes if you have to walk more

Choose shoes with a wide-enough toe box: toes should not be crammed together

Be sure your heel, sides of your foot, and toes aren’t pinched or rubbing by any part of the shoe (breaking them in won’t help if they just don’t fit!)

If you have a high arch, consider shoes with proper arch support

Visit a specialty store if you need sport-specific shoes (running/biking/golf, etc) and have a professional work with you for a shoe fitting

Shop at the end of the day, when your feet will have swelled and you’ll have a more accurate sizing

Be sure there is some space between your toe and the end of the shoe. Usually a thumb-tip’s width is a good…rule of thumb….

Look for comfort with standing and walking. If they’re not comfortable when you try them on, they won’t be later!

If you’ve tried to swap out your trendy – but painful – shoes for healthier versions and you’re still having foot, leg, or back pain, we’re here to help. Our expert providers work with patients every day and discuss lifestyle modifications that can help improve function and symptoms, which includes talking about the best shoes for your current issues. You can even bring in the ones that you think might be causing your problems for expert advice.

Body One is locally owned and operated, with three locations serving North Indy: North Meridian, Fishers, and Zionsville. Our team is ready to get to work helping get you back to an active, healthier lifestyle. Don’t waste another minute, call Indy’s Best PT Team today!