High Heels: The Surprising Lesser of Two Evils

Ahh, flip-flops...the only shoe worse for you than high-heelsYou know how I’m always telling you to stop wearing high heels because they’re so bad for your feet? Well, guess what? There’s another type of shoe that’s even worse and, if you only had those two options for foot wear, I’d advise you to go with the heels.

You may be surprised to learn that flip-flops are the type of footwear hated by podiatrists even more than stilettos. While that may seem strange to you, since flip-flops are the go-to comfort shoe of summer and heels are more like pretty torture devices, here’s the reasons behind the madness.

  1. Flip-flops offer no protection—it’s just your foot, open to the elements, with a few pieces of rubber in between you and the harsh world. This leaves you open to cuts, bruises and abrasions. At least high heels cover up more of your foot.
  2. Flip-flops have no shape—Even if the arch of a high-heeled shoe is too high, at least it exists. Because they are completely flat, flip-flops can cause your arch to drop, leading to heel pain and plantar fasciitis. 
  3. Flat flip-flops are a big problem—if you are used to wearing a shoe that has at least some heel, as most of us are, wearing a super flat shoe like a flip flop can stretch the calf muscles out terribly, straining the Achilles tendon and leading to the inflammation known as tendinitis. Heels obviously don’t have that issue, although they can cause your tendons to shorten, making you even more susceptible to tendinitis when you switch to a shoe with a lower heel.
  4. Flip-flops slip—Because all that keeps these shoes on is a thong, they are likely to slip and move around on you, possibly causing tripping injuries like ankle sprains. While high-heels put you at risk of these problems because they leave you less stable, they don’t fall off nearly as often as flip-flops do.

Fortunately, most of my readers have just a few more than two pairs of shoes in their closets, so the tough choice of high-heel vs. flip-flop will likely never be your only option. Having said that, however, it’s important to remember that both types of shoes can leave you with major foot pain, so limit wearing either type to two hours at a time and then switch to better shoes. And whatever shoes you’re wearing, if you consistently experience foot pain, have your feet examined by a Houston podiatrist like Dr. Andrew Schneider so you can enjoy your summer in comfort. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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