Check out This Podiatrist's Guide to Building Your Dream Shoe Closet!

Are you ready to ensure that your shoe closet “sparks joy,” at least when it comes to the look in your podiatrist’s eyes as you describe its content? Well, let me help you make Marie Kondo proud by telling you the shoes to remove from and add to your shoe shelves this fall!

Remove These Shoes from your Closet ASAP

Here’s a novel thought: just get rid of those shoes that are too small, too big or whose crazy-high-heels just can’t be good for you?

This is a short-list of the worst culprits I’d like to see you toss:

  1. Flip-flops: You may be thinking that now is the season to start bringing these babies out again, but the lack of arch (or any other) kind of support is murderous for your feet. Plus, they’re totally open, leaving you vulnerable to germs and fungus. And gripping with your toes just to keep them in place can lead to hammertoes. So, do us all a favor and toss them out (or relegate them to your swim bag, at least.) Totally flat flips flops have no place in my dream closet
     
  2. True stilettos: The key to wearing high heels is to do it infrequently and, when slipping them on, choosing a pair with a less-than-three-inch heel. Anything higher than that does too much damage to your feet, not to mention completely compromising your balance and center of gravity, leaving you vulnerable to sprains and breaks.
     
  3. Uggs: Well, maybe don’t toss them (they’re warm and toasty and cost big bucks) but do think about the way you wear them. Always wear with socks to prevent athlete’s foot infections as the warm boots cause your feet to sweat. And don’t wear for extended periods of time. Just like flip-flops, these boots provide no arch support and will cause foot pain when worn all day.
     
  4. Any shoe that doesn’t fit: Too big? Your feet will slide around, leading to blisters, corns and calluses. Too small (especially in the toe box)? Your feet will be pinched and compressed. Can lead to Morton’s neuromabunions and numerous other problems. And no, shoes that leave your toes hanging over the edge DO NOT FIT!

Alright, perhaps your shelves are looking a little bare by now…fear not! You can start stocking these to fill the spaces left by those bad-for-you shoe options.

 

Super Sneakers Fight Heel Pain

With so many shoes to choose from, pick models like slides and sneakers that fight heel pain

 

When you spend all day on your feet, you just need a shoe that will pad and support your feet. Of course, I love a great sneaker, but not every running shoe is created equally. If you're just walking around, or spending a long time standing for your job, look for support. One of my favorite options? Nike shoes with Air Max technology. These supportive shoes help absorb shock, taking pressure off your feet and arches. 

In turn, this will help stop your arches from collapsing, as they do in flip-flops (see above.) And that  can stop unwanted tugging on your plantar fascia. So, in place of heel pain, styles like the Vapormax or Nike Air Max will keep your foot plesantly padded. All day long. And all while lending a credible streetwear style to your OOTD (that's right, I've got a teenage daughter, I'm down with the hashtags!) 

Now, not every day can be a sneaker day, especially in Houston. I truly get that. So if you need a great summer option, just keep reading!

 

Slip into Slides 


While flip flops are murder on your feet, supportive sandals such as Birkenstocks are actually preety good for your feet. I know that these old-school sandals weren't in style for a lot of years. But today, they're super trendy, especially among the hip young mom crowd. Even better? These slides are built with tons of arch support. Unlike thinner sandals or flip-flops, the Birkenstock foot bed is soft, and the foam cushioning makes them more responsive to your own feet. Plus, instead of a rubber foot bed, these slides are made with leather. Which means your feet will sweat less, and you'll lower your risk for pesky summer foot infections such as athlete's foot. A win in my book, and yours too I'm guessing. Need a more formal option? No problem: I've got you covered with my next suggestion. 

The Power of Square-Toed Shoes

Once dubbed by Vogue Magazine as “the new Power Flat,” why not grab a pair of square-toed shoes this fall. Here’s why I’m all for this style of shoe:  

Pointy-toed shoes are problematic. They pinch your toes into unnaturally tight positions, putting pressure on the delicate bones in your feet. They are especially tight at the widest point of your feet, where the ball meets the toes. That kind of pressure can impact the joints of the big toe, even altering their growth and potentially leading to the development of bunions.

Now, while pointy-toed shoes may lead to bunion growth, or make small bumps even bigger, they’re basically non-starters for people who already have bunions. Enter the square toed shoe. According to bunion sufferer (and fashion blogger) Nicole Kliest of Who What Wear, “Aside from their subtle, unexpected nature, [square-toed] shoes also happen to be less narrow than pointed-toe options. Translation: My podiatrist says they give your feet more room and are less likely to create foot pain. Sure, they're not as ideal as open-toe sandals, but small improvements, right?”

Benefits of Roomier Toe Boxes

Your toes need the ability to move within your shoes. If they stay static and trapped, trouble ensues.  Here are some of the problems you may be able to avoid by leaving yourself some wiggle room in the toe-box of your shoes:

Corns: Corns appear as a thickening of the skin on your toes. Hard corns are usually located on the outer surface of the little toe or on the upper surface of the other toes. These hardened areas of skin form as a result of repeated pressure—from tight-fitting shoes or other external factors. Your skin becomes thicker as a protective measure, to prevent the pressure from damaging sensitive areas beneath the skin. Calluses can also form as a result of external pressures. Like corns, they appear as hardened areas of skin; typically, however, they appear over a wider area of your feet.  Get rid of unhealthy shoes and your feet will love you!

Neuromas: Neuromas are enlarged nerves that can cause you to experience terrible foot pain. When the enlarged nerve is located between your third and fourth toes, it’s called a Morton's neuroma.  Extra pressure on the front of your feet can exacerbate the pain of a neuroma, and potentially make the problem more difficult to treat.

Hammertoes: External pressures can build up over time, eventually changing the appearance  of your toes permanently. Bent, crooked and crossed toes can all begin to develop—or be made worse—by shoes that fit tightly in the toe box.

Now that you know roomier shoes are a:in style and b: saving you from a whole slew of pretty painful foot problems, I’m sure you’re going to head out and buy a styling new pair of square-toed shoes. But in case you need more inspiration, I hear that Dear Frances and FarFetch have some great styles in stock. Go check them out, and be sure to let them know your podiatrist sent you!

After all, your feet are too precious a commodity to be ruined in the name of cute shoes. I urge you to toss out foot wear that causes you pain and schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider to address any foot, toe or ankle concerns.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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