I’ve been a podiatrist in Houston for a lot of years now. That's why I’m fairly sure most of my readers know that high heels are bad for their feet. I’m also hoping that, for the most part, my sensible readers reserve their high-heel wearing for special occasions. And, even at those times, they limit their heel height to three inches or less.
I know, that's a lot of trust. But I’ll assume we’re all on the same page about stilettos. And I'll move on to the other shoes I want you to avoid!
The 4 Most Surprisingly Bad-For-You Shoes
Read on for my list of bad-for-you shoes styles, listed in no special order, but all worthy of limited wear only. Especially the last one. I really, really can't abide anyone with good sense (or, basically, taste) rocking that style.
I know, slides—those flat shoes that you just slide your feet into—are cool and fairly comfortable. But, when it comes to your foot health, they are problematic for two reasons:
- Your feet aren’t kept in place by a front or back end. That forces your toes to grip and keep the shoes in place. Now, this gripping can lead to foot pain at first. But, with frequent wearing, it may even change the natural shape and growth of your toes. This could allowing a condition known as hammertoes to set in. (Please note this problem is also common among women who wear high heels. And flip flops, as you'll see below.)
- Slides that are flat are also a problem, because they provide no arch support. Without arch support, your natural arch may collapse over time. This pulls your Achilles tendon. So it may cause shin splints, heel pain and/or tendinitis.
Want a comfier slide solution? I'm ok with these new cloud slides, made famous on TikTok and on Gal Gadot's feet. They have a slightly higher heel height. Plus, they have larger, more secure foot straps. That means the shoes stay in place better. And your feet don't have to grip as hard to stop them from sliding. Still, they don't have a back. So they're not as secure as other shoes. Meaning they're still not my favorite.
Sock sneakers are having a moment, fashion wise, but they are a major problem. They're shaped like athletic shoes, so these babies trick us into a false sense of security. But if you run when wearing sock sneakers, you'll have no support whatsoever. And do you know what that kind of false security leads to? Injuries like ankle sprains and strains, along with the usual suspects like foot pain and inflammation.
You may be surprised to learn that podiatrists hate flip-flops even more than stilettos. Here’s why:
- 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.
- 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.
- Like slides, flat flip-flops are a big problem. If you usually wear a heeled shoe, wearing a super flat one can stretch out your calf muscles. This strains the Achilles tendon and leads to the inflammation of tendinitis. Heels don’t have that issue, but they can cause your tendons to shorten. And that makes you even more susceptible to tendinitis when you switch to a shoe with a lower heel.
- Again, like slides, 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.
- Pairs that have a thong shape leave your toes gripping to keep them in place. Over time, that can damage your toe joints and leave you with hammertoes. And that's why I say, if you wear flip flops to the pool or beach, don't spend more than two hours wearing these shoes on any one day.
CROCS (ESPECIALLY WITH HEELS)
I’ve long had a love-hate relationship with Crocs, as have many people out there. While some object to these rubber shoes simply because of their innate hideousness, my concerns came from the fact that adherents where them everywhere…despite the fact that they aren’t actually good for your feet (little arch support, prone to rubbing and corns/blisters…the list goes on and on.)
But I got a new reason to rail against Crocs when they reintroduced high-heels to some of their designs! So, those shoes have all the problems associated with traditional Croc styles and all the problems associated with high heels (think: bunions, hammertoes and instability just to name a few!)
But wait, there’s still more cause for worry: let’s remember that, like the rest of the Croc, the heels are made of rubber. Rubber bends. Women are already less stable when their bodies are tilted at an angle as a result of an elevated shoe heel, and now we’re suggesting that the heel should be constructed from a material that bends and twists. Meaning that heel is all-too-likely to get bent out of shape, leading to trips, slips and, more likely than not, an ankle sprain or two.
So, leaving aside all fashion objections (and I’m sure there are plenty of those, but that’s more my wife’s territory than my own) I’d strongly advise against including a pair of the new stiletto Crocs in your wardrobe. Defy me if you must, but I believe you’ll end up regretting that decision on oh-so-many fronts (did I mention that they’re still super ugly?)
All right guys, if you've stuck with me this long, especially if you’ve also joined me on the “no high-heels” bandwagon, I’m hoping you’ll at least consider ditching the other shoes I’ve discussed in this post. After all, I’m not here to crush all your dreams of fashionable footwear (especially trendy shoes that are actually hideous.) My only end game in all of this is to help your feet look and feel their best. Isn’t that something you can get on board with as well?
As always, you could wear the perfect shoes and still end up with foot pain. No need to suffer! Contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider to schedule an immediate appointment. Together we'll keep you active and wearing the shoes you love.