When you think of what shoes to wear, chances are you’re thinking about what pair will match what outfit you’re wearing. You probably think through what activities you’ll be doing and the environment you’ll be in.
If you’re going to work, you’ll likely pick out a pair of nice, though casual dress shoes or heels. These shoes, while nicer, will still be comfortable enough to wear for a whole 8 hour workday.
When you workout or lounge around the house, you would wear tennis shoes and flip-flops, respectively.
Most people dread wearing formal dress shoes, because, they have the sole purpose of looking good. They aren’t designed to be worn for long periods of time, day after day.
Why do we associate flip-flops with ultimate comfort and high-heels for torture?
The most obvious reason is the way our feet are positioned when wearing them.
Our feet are designed to give us mobility and stability, both of which are compromised when we wear heels and tight-fitting dress shoes.
Even then, some people may struggle with wearing flat shoes, such as tennis shoes because of the shape of their feet’s arches. The correct arch of the foot allows for equal distribution of body pressure on the heel and the ball (the pad of the foot below the big toe) as well as provide stability. Some people have arches that are too flat (flat footed) or too pronounced. Both these foot arch issues can cause discomfort and long-term damage to the feet.
Flat-footedness is more common than having a high arch. People with a low arch have it through heredity or develop an additional health issue such as diabetes and obesity that can result in a lowered arch.
Those with a high arch often have a neurological disorder such as spinal bifida, cerebral-palsy, polio or muscular dystrophy. In some cases a high arch can be inherited.
Fortunately, there are shoes and orthotics out there that can ease the pain and discomfort while also gradually correcting the arch. There are also corrective surgery available if non-surgical options don’t work.
Common foot issues from ill-fitting shoes include:
- Pump bump
- Hammer toes
- Morton’s Neuroma
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
- Achilles tendonitis
- Ingrown toenails
- Diabetic foot issues
- Heel spurs
- Foot drop
- Unstable feet and increased risk of ankle sprains
- Claw toes
- Pain when standing or walking
- Plantar fasciitis
- Back pain
- Shin splints
- Knee pain
- Stress fractures
- Heel and ball pain
- Foot and leg aches
- Loss of padding on ball and heel
Wearing uncomfortable shoes can worsen foot problems as they don’t correct the arch.
Some foot problems caused by uncomfortable shoes can have long-term impacts on other parts of the body and can limit one’s mobility which can lead to a decreased quality of life.
Whether you have a high or low arch, look for these types of shoes as these have been shown to provide comfort and effective arch and gait correction:
- Lace-up shoes
- Flexible, breathable mesh
- Have built-in removable insoles
- Adequate cushioning
Not all shoes are good for all feet. In fact, some shoes, like heels and those too small, aren’t good for any person’s feet. If you have a low or high arch, you may have to pay more for your specialty shoes. Specially designed shoes for those with arch issues are worth the investment. Finding the right shoe for your feet will improve your mobility and quality of life.