Your knees support your weight every step you take and the shoes you wear might make the difference between walking pleasure and pain.

Shoes with good support keep the knee in alignment, reducing the potential causes of pain. Proper arch support can keep feet from rotating inward or pronating. Cushioning in the shoes can reduce shocks that happen with each step.

Being closer to the ground is better for the thigh muscles, since they do not need to work as hard. High heels tend to tip people forward, forcing the quadriceps to work harder to keep the knee in place.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, different kinds of shoes can cause different kinds of problems for knees and feet.

What kinds of shoes should you be wearing?

Heels

If you need to wear high heels above two inches, look for a cupped heel, a cradle toe area, and an anatomical arch. These features can help better distribute weight.

Lower heels can also cause problems, but to a lesser degree. Look for wide toe boxes, rubber soles, and wedge heels. They provide more support and stability than the narrower heel.

Sandals & open-back shoes

As for sandals, if knee pain is a problem, look for sandals with support. Straps keep the foot in place and allow for stability and a better fit. Back straps keep toes from gripping the edge of the shoes.

Clogs with open backs can be bad for knees and other foot problems because toes need to grip to stay in the shoe. Look for clogs with a closed back for more support.

Athletic shoes

Athletic shoes often have a cushioned midsole and heel to help control over-pronation and other motion that is bad for the knee. If you over-pronate, a stability sneaker might be the best bet because they can take the pressure off the ball of the foot.

Boots

Boots can be good because they often help stabilize the ankle and foot, keeping them in alignment. High-heeled boots can cause the same problems as other heels, so they are not so great for people with knee pain.

Flats

Finally, flats. If the flat does not have cushioning, arch support, and something to absorb shock, they are not great for your feet or knees.

How to prevent knee pain with your shoes

They keys to preventing knee pain is to look for shoes with:

  • Cushioning to absorb some of the shock that comes from hitting the ground, preventing shock to the knees
  • Good soles and firm midsoles to keep your foot from pronating, causing the knee to rotate
  • Lower heels to reduce the force stilettos and other high heels place on the kneecap

Still having knee pain?

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