High Heels

Despite the attractiveness of wearing high heeled shoes, the list of potentially painful foot problems and muscle and joint injuries is long.

Squeeze the front part of the foot, which can lead to structural pathologies in the feet, e.g. bunions.
Put the ankle into a plantar flexion (arching of the foot), which shorten the calf muscles.

Throw the pelvis forward, which produces a sway back (lumbar lordosis). This is a distortion that puts stress through the sacral iliac joints and low back.

Are unstable to walk on (especially spike heels) due to the minimal heel surface. This makes you more prone to ankle twist and falling.

Pointed Toe Shoes

A turkey has three long pointed toes – a human does not! If you wear pointed toed shoes, they will laterally compress the front part of your foot to make your toes conform within the boundaries of the shoe. This prevents your foot from functioning correctly when you walk.  Pointed toe shoes can lead to structural changes in the front part of the foot, e.g. corns, calluses, ingrown nails and bunions. In addition to being uncomfortable, pointed toe shoes can also cause very ugly feet!

Are Your Shoes Contributing To Your Chronic Pain?

The metal shoes pictured here were used to punish people during the middle ages. The miscreant was placed in a yoke or the  stocks, which secured their head and hands, and the metal shoes were placed on their feet. The idea was that they’d stand on their toes as long as they could, but eventually fatigue would make them step down, and when they did, those three metal spikes would drive into their heels.

Athletic Shoes With Air or Foam Heels

Air and foam heel shoes are unstable because their synthetic non- rubber heels easily compress and deform. This leads to instability in your heel as you walk, which makes you more prone to ankle twists. Research suggests that you are also more prone to sports injuries when using air and gel heels.

Because they don’t last as long as harder heels; air and gel shoes have to be replaced more frequently.

Earth Shoes

Earth Shoes (also called negative heel shoes) put an unhealthy stretch on the calf muscles, making you more prone to tearing your Achilles tendon.

Rocker Bottom Shoes

Normally as you walk, you use your foot and leg muscles to move the weight of your body from your heel to your toes. But in using rocker bottom shoes, the rolling action is done for you, reducing the need to use your muscles. The result is that your foot and leg muscles (due to decreased use) get weaker the longer you use these shoes.

Choosing ‘Healthy’ Shoes

Thanks to shoe manufacturers who promote shoe fads (that ruin your feet and body) instead of shoes that promote wellness, many people are convinced that good shoes are unattractive and can only be found in orthopedic shoe stores.

Though this above notion is far from the truth, if your idea of a great pair of shoes is based solely on fad fashion extremes, then a slight attitude adjustment may be necessary if you also want to be comfortable.

It’s easy to find shoes that are both stylish and good for your body. Here are some guidelines:

  1. Ideally, heels should be no more than ½- 1inch in height.
  2. The toe box must be sufficiently tall and wide to allow the front part of your foot to sit comfortably in the shoe without being jammed into the toe box material of the shoe.
  3. The shoes should be roomy enough to allow your foot to, assume its natural shape without being compressed.
  4. The heel of the shoe should cradle the heel of the foot so that your heel doesn’t ride up and down as you walk, causing friction and calluses.
  5. Materials in the heels and soles should not easily compress when you walk- rubber heels and leather soles are best.
  6. Real leather allows your feet to breath. Fake leather or other synthetic materials like canvas hold the foot’s heat in the shoes. This can lead to excessive sweating and fungal infections in the nails and skin.
  7. The shoe must bend in the toe area to allow the foot to move naturally as you walk.
  8. Avoid rigid shoes or shoes that do not allow the feet to function as nature intended.

It sounds monstrous, doesn’t it? Yet many people today voluntarily put themselves through torture by choosing shoes that can do just as much physical damage. 

When buying a new pair of shoes, it’s important to choose wisely. And if you live with chronic ankle, foot, knee, hip or back pain, the right choice is even more important, as the wrong type of shoes can make your existing problem(s) worse.

In buying a new pair of shoes it makes good sense to avoid these shoe pitfalls: