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    Categories: Fashion

How Do Your Favorite Shoes Stack up? Short-term and Long-term Health Effects of Popular Types of Shoes


Do you have your long-term health and mobility in mind when you choose new shoes to add to your collection? Most people do not – and it’s not surprising that many of them will probably face foot problems due to excessive wearing of uncomfortable shoes or those with poor support. How do your favorite shoes stack up? Do you know if you are giving your feet and your body the support needed to stay healthy and strong?

Wearing your favorite shoes in moderation is probably okay if you find out that your preferred shoe style is not the best for your feet. If you wear the same kinds of trendy or fashion shoes very often without regard to comfort or support, you may start to experience foot problems earlier in life than you would if you wore more supportive shoes all the time. Consider these tips from podiatric experts who share the scoop on the best and worst shoes for your feet.

The Best and Worst Shoes and Long-term Health Effects of Each
Everyone has a favorite pair of shoes – that special pair to wear to a fancy occasion or the most comfortable pair to wear around the house, running errands, and everything in between. Find out if your favorite pair of shoes has any particular short-term or long-term health effects or problems on your feet.

“It’s really difficult to rank shoes because there are different situations that make the various shoes good or bad,” says Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association.

High Heels / Stilettos

“Women with high arches tend to be more comfortable in heels than flat footed women, but excessive use of heels causes many times the normal pressure on the ball of the foot and can cause stress fractures, inflammation of the ball of the foot, and even ligament ruptures at the joints of the ball of the foot, which can lead to hammertoes and dislocated joints. Constant heel use can also cause the Achilles tendon to become contracted and then make wearing flatter shoes difficult. Some women even fall off their heels and suffer sprained ankles!”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“When wearing these types of shoes, women are more likely to develop metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain), blisters or ingrown toenails secondary to narrow toeboxes, suffer ankle sprains/fractures due to instability, aggrevate neuroma symptoms because they have a pointy/narrow toebox.”
(Rated stilettos and high heels 12th on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

“Wearing high heels, or stilettos, will change a person’s center of gravity. This will cause poor balance with strain and stress on other body parts, such as knees, hips, and the lower back. There is also a greater chance of spraining or breaking an ankle or foot bone if you fall.  In addition, there is more stress placed on the ball of the foot and this can cause a painful condition known as bursitis. The toes may be curled in a tight and narrow shoe toebox (front of the shoe) which can lead to blistering, corns, and calluses.  The shape of the shoe may also aggravate and worsen existing conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas (a pinched nerve).”
–    Dr. Robin Ross, podiatrist and New York State Podiatric Medical Association

“High heels of any kind [can cause] shortened achilles/leg muscles, aggravation of bony problems like bunions, hammertoes… Can cause blisters, corns, calluses, neuromas, metatarsalgia, instability leading to ankle sprains or falls.”
–    Dr. Jane Andersen, Board Certified Podiatrist in private practice in Chapel Hill, NC

Platforms / Wedges Shoes
“Platforms / wedges shoes that don’t allow your foot to bend naturally can cause the tendons to be overworked and can cause tendonitis or inflammation and pain. Because they limit normal motion, people with arthritis may benefit from wedge shoes.”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“This type of shoe tends to be better than a pointed heel because the weight-bearing sole is wider and therefore absorbs more shock. Any heeled shoe should be less than two inches.”
(Rated platforms and wedges 6th on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

“Platform, or wedges, are ‘in’ and come in all sizes and shapes. The higher the platform or wedge, the worse the center of gravity becomes when walking. A high platform or wedge may cause the individual to lose their balance and twist an ankle which may lead to chronic ankle instability or even a broken bone in the ankle or foot. It is important to make sure that the shoe material is made of cotton or a soft, supple leather. Plastic will irritate the skin and may dig into the skin causing blisters. Tight straps may feel like a tourniquet, as the day (or night) progresses, and the feet naturally swell over the course of the day and can become very uncomfortable, if not downright painful.”
–    Dr. Robin Ross, podiatrist and New York State Podiatric Medical Association

Boots with a Heel…


Boots with a Heel

“Assuming you mean high heels, boots are no different than high heel shoes.”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“The advantage of a boot is that the vamp goes above your ankle which lends itself to greater
ankle support. This is especially useful in patients with chronic lateral ankle instability. Again, if the heel is high and is not a wide/solid base, it can lead to the same problems mentioned in the high heel section.”
(Rated boots with heel 3rd on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

Boots without a Heel

“I love boots as long as they fit comfortably, bend at the ball of the foot, and are under 2.5 inches in height for most women. Boots with a flat heel or a riding style boot are always in style and perfect for casual wear.”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“Boots without heel get the same answer as boots with heel.”
(Rated boots without a heel 3rd on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

Clogs

“Women who have ‘pump bumps’ – enlarged bumps at the back of the heel – love clogs because they don’t cause pressure there. Women with heel pain should avoid clogs because they don’t offer any stability to the heel.”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“Without a back heel counter, the foot flops around in this shoe. The key to stabilizing/controlling the forefoot is controlling the heel. This can only be accomplished in a shoe with a heel counter. People wearing these shoes tend to develop tendonitis.”
(Rated clogs 10th on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

Clogs: many are supportive (like Dansko) but an open backed shoe can lead to cracked heels.”
–    Dr. Jane Andersen, Board Certified Podiatrist in private practice in Chapel Hill, NC

Peep-toe Shoes…



Peep-toe Shoes

“As long as the peep toe is not restrictive on the toes, they don’t offer any pros or cons in addition to the rest of the shoe. I love the new peep toe boots!”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“These shoes can be okay if the peep-toe does not rub/irritate the toenails. If there is irritation at the nail plate/groove, this can lead to ingrown toenails.”
(Rated peep-toe shoes 8th on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

Flip-Flops

“For the most part, flip flops are almost as bad as heels! They generally do not provide stability and usually cause the foot to function abnormally.”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“Not my favorite shoe and these need to be worn in moderation. Tendonitis, foot/ankle sprains, trauma/injury since the foot isn’t protected by a vamp, limited arch support, and worsening of hammertoe deformity can all be attributed to wearing these shoes.”
(Rated flip-flops 11th on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

“Whether they be the new, technologically advanced, foot-contoured, athletic styled flip-flop, or the run of the mill flip-flop, all should be worn for a limited time. The newer flip-flops on the market are contoured with a deeper heel cup and an arch so that it feels as though your feet have support. Be aware that this is generic support and not custom designed for the wearer. Flip-flops, as designed, should be worn for a limited time—around the pool, beach, or house. They do not offer protection to the foot in that if a person trips in them, they could catch their toe and rip off the nail or even twist the digit and sprain, or even, break the toe. Being ‘open’ in design, there is no protection if something falls onto the foot, or even to protect against a laceration or abrasion of the skin.”
–    Dr. Robin Ross, podiatrist and New York State Podiatric Medical Association

“Flip flops can lead to plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, broken bones, ankle sprains, cracked heels, foreign bodies.”
–    Dr. Jane Andersen, Board Certified Podiatrist in private practice in Chapel Hill, NC

Sneakers

“You can NEVER go wrong with a well fitting pair of sneakers from a health standpoint!”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“Sneakers tend to be the best type of shoe because they have adequate arch support, a supportive non-skid sole that provides shock absorption, and a rounded/deep toebox.”
(Rated sneakers 1st on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

“The best type of shoe gear is a ‘running’ sneaker or a very good walking shoe. A running sneaker offers the maximum amount of cushion and support and is lightweight. Those new sneakers that have a ‘lower’ heel than forefoot are not recommended because they put too much strain on the Achilles tendon and do not provide enough shock absorption when the foot his the hard ground. These types of shoes may cause an unsteady gait and may increase the chance of tripping or falling.”
–    Dr. Robin Ross, podiatrist and New York State Podiatric Medical Association

Loafers, Flats, Slippers…


Loafers

“The lack of heel support in the typical loafer is bad for people with heel pain.”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“Well-made loafers can also be considered ‘foot healthy’ if they satisfy the above mentioned characteristics [adequate arch support, a supportive non-skid sole that provides shock absorption, and a rounded/deep toebox].”
(Rated loafers 2nd on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

“Flats, loafers depend on level of support. Usually flats have no arch support, which can lead to plantar fascitis, stress fractures.”
–    Dr. Jane Andersen, Board Certified Podiatrist in private practice in Chapel Hill, NC

Flats

“Most flats offer no support to the arch or the heel; they are difficult to wear with custom orthotics, and many are so flimsy that they are really not much better than slippers.”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“The flat has its advantages as they usually have a round or square toebox, which can accommodate hammertoe/bunion deformities. If the flat has a supportive arch with a rigid heel counter, then they are a good shoe to wear.”
(Rated flats 5th on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

“Flats, or ballet slippers, worn for an extended period of time may cause a painful condition of the arch muscle known as plantar fasciitis. This occurs when the arch muscle is stretched too much, because of insufficient support, and causes pain which may also lead to heel pain. When there is chronic plantar fasciitis the heel pain may cause a condition known as a heel spur, which, too, can become a painful condition of the heel making it difficult to walk.”
–    Dr. Robin Ross, podiatrist and New York State Podiatric Medical Association

Slippers

“Slippers only provide protection from the ground. They don’t do anything to support the foot and often prevent people from walking normally.”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“These shoes only provide cushion, which is at least better than walking barefoot. I usually recommend that patients buy a pair of moccasin type slippers and put a pair of OTC inserts in them to provide more arch support.”
(Rated slippers 9th on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

Slippers/barefoot: not enough support for the average person, especially on hard surfaces such as wood or tile floors. Can lead to plantar fasciitis, stress fractures.”
–    Dr. Jane Andersen, Board Certified Podiatrist in private practice in Chapel Hill, NC

“Rocker” Shoes, Going Barefoot…


“Rocker” Shoes

“These shoes are great for people with arthritis, but for the average foot, they can be detrimental. They prevent normal ambulation and can be very unstable on ice and snow.”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“I usually recommend these shoes to patients who have osteoarthritis of the tarsometatarsal joint or suffer from hallux rigidus. The rocker sole does the majority of the work during propulsion, which decreases the stress at the tarsometatarsal joint and great toe. This shoe has been adapted from the shoe modification used in patients with Charcot arthropathy (arch collapse).”
(Rated rocker shoes 4th on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

Rocker shoes often change ambulation patterns and can lead to an unstable gait.”
–    Dr. Jane Andersen, Board Certified Podiatrist in private practice in Chapel Hill, NC

Going Barefoot

“If your foot is a perfect foot, walking barefoot would be fine as long as you are indoors and on protected surfaces. Most feet need the support (and protection) that carefully constructed shoes offer.”
–    Dr. Marlene Reid, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association

“Your feet need to be protected from environmental factors such as heat/cold and from foreign objects. Shoes provide support and protection. Going barefoot puts you at increased risk of injury (puncture wounds, blisters, frostbite, burns) and trauma.”
(Rated going barefoot 13th on a 13-point scale of 1-Best :: 13-Worst)
–    Dr. Melissa Hong, podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD

***

“In summary, foot pain is not normal,” advises Dr. Robin Ross, podiatrist and New York State Podiatric Medical Association. “If you have foot pain, see your Podiatrist – the foot specialist – right away. The Podiatrist can offer options to allow you to walk pain-free, which may include a recommendation regarding shoe gear, medication, orthoses (custom made inserts to hold your feet in the corrected position as you walk), or even surgery, if warranted.

“When wearing fashionable shoes exercise common sense,” she adds. “Wear a good running shoe for most activities, or to a fashionable event or work, and then change into the shoe that compliments your outfit. If a shoe does not feel completely comfortable when you are trying it on, then chances are it won’t get any better after they are purchased. Before you break-in the shoe, it will most likely ‘break’ your feet. When in doubt, see your Podiatrist.”

About the Experts:
Dr. Marlene Reid is a specialist in women’s foot health and a long time spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Dr. Reid is one of the leading podiatric experts in the US, currently practicing in Naperville, Illinois. She is also the APMA’s current Chair for the public education and information committee. For more information, check out Dr. Reid’s blog at http://womensfoothealth.blogspot.com.

Dr. Melissa Hong is a podiatric expert at Crystal Lake Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, LTD. in Crystal Lake, IL. After graduating from Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago, IL., she completed a comprehensive training residency in forefoot and rearfoot reconstructive surgery at Loyola Medical Center and the Edward Hines VA Hospital. For more information, please see http://www.cuttingedgeortho.com/home.php.

Dr. Jane Andersen is a Board Certified Podiatrist in private practice in Chapel Hill, NC.  She is a member of the Public Education and Information Committee of the APMA and the Past President of the American Association for Women Podiatrists, Inc. For more information, please see http://www.chapelhillfootandankle.com/bio_2.html.

Dr. Robin Ross is a podiatrist and an association member from Shelter Island, NY. The New York State Podiatric Medical Association (NYSPMA) named her the President Elect on the Board of Trustees. Since 2001, Dr. Ross has been a member of the Board, serving as treasurer from 2007 to 2008 and vice-president from 2008 to 2009. She is board certified in podiatric surgery. In 1992, Dr. Ross began a private practice in Brooklyn, NY and currently has an office on Shelter Island, NY.

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Kathryn D'Imperio:

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  • I'm super petite and it's hard for me to stay way from high heels and wedges,it's the only way to add height to my small body frame... :sad: I wish i'm tall so i can avoid these risky stilletos... :cry:

  • Heel pain is most often caused by plantar fasciitis, a condition that is sometimes also called heel spur syndrome when a spur is present. Heel pain may also be due to other causes, such as a stress fracture, tendonitis, arthritis, nerve irritation, or, rarely, a cyst.";-`