Most people know they should wear good, supportive shoes. It’s something their parents probably told them as children, and their doctors never seem to get tired of reminding them of it. However annoying as it may be to hear this repeated so often, there’s a solid reason for it: Wearing the wrong shoes can cause injury and chronic health problems, and not just to your feet.
Maybe you feel you’re too “fashion forward” to wear good shoes, or it may be as simple as the fact that even though you need to be on your feet all day, you can’t see spending the money on quality shoes. Before you decide to ignore all the advice you’ve heard over the years, let’s take a look at what can happen to your body as a result of wearing bad footwear.
The wrong shoes
High heels and stilettos. Women, particularly professionals, often feel as though they must wear heels to be perceived as well-dressed. However, high heels cause you to walk in an unnatural way, with your weight pushed forward onto your toe bones.
Stilettos take that to a more extreme level, shifting even more of your weight forward and providing little stability in back, making it very easy to sprain your ankle. In extreme cases, too much pressure on the front of the foot can even cause hairline fractures in your bones.
Ballet flats and flipflops. When these have no arch supports in them—and they usually don’t—they put a great deal of pressure on your knees, hips and back, especially if you’re on your feet a lot. Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that occurs when the fibrous tissue than runs along the bottom of your foot between your heel and toes becomes inflamed from being overstretched.
This causes extreme pain in the heels, especially when you put weight on your feet after first getting out of bed or when you stand up after sitting for a long period. In extreme cases, the fascia can actually tear.
Pointed-toe shoes. This problem isn’t confined to women’s footwear—many men’s shoes also have very pointed toes that do not conform to the natural shape of the foot. Squeezing your toes into a pointy shoe can deform your bones, creating bunions and hammertoes.
A hammertoe occurs when a toe that’s been pushed into a shoe that’s too tight begins to bend in an abnormal way, and it can become rigid to the point where it requires surgery to correct. A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. While a tendency for bunions is hereditary, a pointed shoe that continually puts pressure on this area can trigger one. People with rheumatoid arthritis are especially at risk for developing bunions.
More than a foot problem
Shoes that don’t fit right, provide poor support or squeeze your feet into an unnatural shape don’t just cause foot problems and pain. Over time, they can cause issues throughout your body, including in your ankles, knees, hips and back.
For example, a poorly-fitting shoe can also cause your feet to roll unnaturally inward or outward, creating back pain and unusual stress on your knees and hips.
A scientific study showed that people who frequently wear high heels have a higher risk for developing osteoarthritis in their knees and a greater likelihood of experiencing low back and foot pain later in life. In addition, heels tend to cause your calf muscles to become weak, creating instability when you walk and overall strain on your body. If you already suffer from arthritis, the wrong shoes can make your pain far worse.
However, there’s good news too: The right shoes can greatly improve your posture, reduce your pain and make you more stable while walking and standing.
What to do
First, don’t assume that shoes that are good for you are necessarily going to be ugly and unstylish. Most experts say you can wear a well-made shoe with a heel of two inches or less without significant problems. Shoe designers are getting very smart as well, creating flipflops with good arch supports and “performance pumps” that are dressy shoes based on an athletic shoe’s structure. In addition, shoe inserts can compensate for the lack of an arch support in many types of footwear.
You’ll want to get a proper fitting before buying shoes, however. The height of your instep, the width of your foot, the way you walk and stand, your weight and your job all play a part in getting the best possible fit. Studies show that most people tend to wear shoes that are too small for them, so going to a good shoe store that can measure you and recommend the best shoes is key.
If you are already experiencing foot and ankle pain, you’ll want to get checked out by a joint specialist first to ensure your problems don’t require specific treatment. Here at Flexogenix™, we address many degenerative foot and ankle issues using non-invasive regenerative treatments that allow your body to heal itself naturally.
Even if you’ve been wearing the wrong shoes until now, there’s hope. With expert medical help and some changes to your footwear, you’ll be able to walk and stand without being in chronic pain. Be proactive and contact Flexogenix™ today.