Published on June 07, 2019

Walk This Way

From ballerina flats and spiky stilettos, to pointy-toed pumps and casual clogs, women love shoes. Yet, fashion and comfort rarely walk together. We have the fix for four popular, but problematic, shoe styles.

woman laying of floor with shoes fanned around herProblem Shoe No. 1: Flip-flops

Nothing says easy livin’ like a pair of flip-flops. But unless you’re combing the beach or sitting poolside, these shoes should stay in your closet. They’re not for everyday wear. Flip-flops can’t protect your feet from cuts, scrape and burns. Plus, most flip-flops don’t have arch support, which can lead to plantar fasciitis and knee, hip or back problems.

Foot Fix: Give fitted sandals or toning sandals a try. These styles have thick soles that offer your feet a little more protection, and they typically have good arch support. At the very least, wear sandals with a strap across the back so they stay in place and reduce your risk of muscle strain or injury.

Problem Shoe No. 2: High Heels

The higher the heel (we’re looking at you, stilettos), the bigger the problems. Super high heels, as sexy as they may be, make you more likely to literally fall head over heels and sprain your ankle. That’s definitely not sexy. At the very least, they can cause blisters, swelling and a painful Achilles tendon. High heels also put excess pressure on the cushiony part of ball of your foot. Over time, the cushion thins out, which can lead to chronic pain and stress fractures.

Foot Fix: Put your best foot forward by keeping heels to no higher than 2 inches. If you must stand tall, select styles with chunkier heels, which can keep you steadier on your feet. (They still compromise the ball of your foot). If you’re bound and determined to be in heels, save the stilettos for special occasions (girls’ night out, anyone?).

Problem Shoe No. 3: Pointy-Toed Shoes

These days, it’s tough to find trendy shoes that don’t have pointy toes. Yet, squeezing your tiny tootsies into those tips can cause some of the same problems as high heels. “Shoes with narrow toe boxes can cause corns and calluses,” warned Michael N. Fine, DPM, with Fine Foot Care Center. “They can also irritate existing foot conditions such as bunions and hammer toes."

Foot Fix: Buy shoes with a wider toe box (the part of the shoe that covers and protects your toes). As a general rule, shoes shouldn’t pinch the tips or sides of your toes. “One way to tell if your shoes are wide enough is to stand on a piece of paper and make tracings of your bare feet,” Dr. Fine said. “Put your shoes on top of the tracings. If your feet are wider than your shoes, you need different shoes.” Like their high-heeled cousins, save pointy-toed shoes for special occasions.

Problem Shoe No. 4: Flats

It seems like flats should be the ultimate go-to shoe. After all, they keep you firmly planted on the ground and are fairly flexible. While they are a step up from flip-flops, most flats don’t provide proper support, which can lead to tendonitis; plantar fasciitis; and knee, hip and back problems.

Foot Fix: Inserts can help. They provide extra cushion in the heel and some arch support. It may be worth a trip to the foot doctor, aka a podiatrist, for a customized orthotic. Your insurance may foot the bill so check your coverage.