Form Over Fashion: Choosing the Right Shoes

April 22, 2019

As we step into spring, many women switch out their wardrobe and start wearing sandals, high heels, or stylish flats. But before you put your sneakers in storage, it’s important to remember that your footwear can greatly impact the health of your feet.

As Kenneth Foster, DPM, podiatrist with Kettering Physician Network Orthopedics & Sports Medicine says, “Many people are predisposed to certain conditions, such as bunions or plantar fasciitis. Shoe gear is often the tipping point that will precipitate out these problems.”

What kinds of shoes should I avoid?

So what should you look for in a shoe? “In general, if the mid-sole of the shoe bends when you try to twist it, that shoe has less support and benefit,” says Dr. Foster. “Typically, the most supportive shoes will only bend up by the toe box.” Dr. Foster emphasizes the importance of choosing a shoe that has a good heel counter, the part of the shoe that cradles the heel and arch, to prevent excessive pronation or supination.

For example, when someone wears flip flops, certain muscles in the feet have to work much harder just to keep the flip flop in place. “Essentially, the only function of a flip flop is to keep your foot from touching the ground,” says Dr. Foster. “I always advise that people avoid flip flops on days they will be doing a lot of walking.”

Additionally, high-heeled shoes put a large amount of pressure on the forefoot — more than the forefoot was designed to take. “This alone can be problematic,” says Dr. Foster, “but if a person has a foot type that is more predisposed to developing bunions, if they are hypermobile, or if they have a bunion deformity already starting, then wearing high heels is only going to make these problems worse.” High heels, especially those with pointed toes, are also typically tighter than other types of shoes. “As much as you can,” says Dr. Foster, “the lower the heel, the better.”

When should I see a doctor?

Most people will experience aching feet from time to time, especially after long periods of standing or walking. But how do you know when the pain requires professional attention?

Dr. Foster advises stretching the feet, using over-the-counter pain relievers, icing the feet, and switching to more supportive shoes. “However, if you’ve tried these conservative measures and are still having pain after two weeks, then it’s time to seek professional help.”

Are you experiencing foot pain that won’t go away? Schedule an appointment with a Kettering Health Network provider today to find relief. Call 1-844-228-MOVE (6683) or visit ketteringhealth.org/ortho/request