What Are Your Shoes Doing To Your Body?

High Heels

Many times we buy shoes based on their style, cost and convenience. Sometimes comfort is also a factor. But wearing the right shoes is much more important than it might seem on the surface.

“People don’t realize that your feet are your foundation. If your feet are out of alignment, your body has to compensate. Your ankle has to tweak a little. Your knee has to tweak, your hips, your back,” says Dr. Elijah Davis, a podiatrist with Mosaic Life Care, in the St. Joseph News-Press. “When you are active, these little malalignments will lead to issues later on.”

While 25% of Americans suffer from foot problems, more than 75% adults experience foot pain, according to a 2014 study by the American Podiatric Medical Association. While adults might understand the importance of foot health in theory, “they don’t think about it often, and don’t care for their feet as regularly as teeth, eyes or some other body parts,” the study states. And half of the 1,000 adults surveyed said that their foot pain limited their ability to work and exercise.

How can different kinds of shoes affect your health? According to experts:

High Heels

Close-up portrait of woman's legs on high heels. Lady in yellow dress sitting and touching her right leg near office building.

High heels, when worn for more than a few hours, cause the lower back to move forward, which throws the hips and spine out of alignment and creates extra pressure on the knees and the balls of the feet. High heels are also linked to bunions, stress fractures, hammer toes, ligament damage and other foot problems.

Flip Flops

Flip Flops and Foot Pain

Flip-flops, and the grasping motion of the toes to hold the flip-flop onto the foot, can cause tendonitis and injuries due to overuse. This can lead to plantar fasciitis, heel pain, arch pain and other issues.

Athletic Shoes

Athletic Shoes and Running Injuries

Athletic shoes don’t always provide the necessary support for foot health. “These are the shoes that literally you can take and bend them and twist them. They are very light,” Dr. Davis explains. “A lot of patients will get out these shoes, start becoming active, start going out for walks, jogging, and all of sudden, they will start experiencing arch pain, heel pain, pain through the midfoot.” The proper type and amount of athletic shoe support is different based on varying foot structures, arches and other individual factors.

Having your feet evaluated for corrective inserts and wearing the right shoes can improve stability and alignment, relieve pain and make it easier to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle.