Shoe styles change from season to season, but one thing remains the same: the types of shoes you wear can greatly affect the way your feet feel. Wearing the right kind of shoe protects your feet, especially if you’re on them for most of the day. You should choose your shoes carefully and wisely.
These are some of the ways different shoe styles can help your feet – and some of the ways they can hurt them.
Firstly, Should You Wear Minimalist Shoes?
A growing amount of evidence supports the idea that so-called “minimal shoes” could help foot health for some people. These are shoes designed to basically mimic the human foot. They typically don’t have arch support or a toe box, and they have flexible, thin soles. Research suggests people who wear these types of shoes have stronger foot muscles than those who wear “regular” shoes.1
According to research, stronger foot muscles reduce the chances of developing flat feet.
And flat feet can cause certain health issues, like back or knee pain.2
But traditional shoes are made for a reason. They’re comfortable and provide protection. In fact, if someone suddenly switches to a minimal shoe, they might be at a higher risk of suffering an injury.3
So, should you consider minimal shoes? Everyone is different, and the jury is still out on whether this type of shoe is actually better for your feet. If you’re curious, get a pair, and gradually switch over to wearing them.
Types of Shoes to Avoid
You may not have any desire to wear minimal shoes. It’s a big change, and if you’re used to wearing a shoe that supports arches, minimal might not be the best choice. There are specific shoes you’ll want to try to avoid entirely, too.
These types of shoes will typically be at the top of the list when it comes to shoe styles to stay away from. If heels are too high, they can increase the risk of a potentially severe fall. But they also do a number on the muscles in your feet, and can even lead to back pain.4 If you have to wear them, go for lower heels, or alternate with other shoe styles two or three days a week.
The summer staple can be bad for your feet. Most flip-flops offer nothing in the way of arch support so you should never wear them if you plan on walking long distances. Flip-flops don’t provide a lot of protection, either. If you ride a bike when wearing them, for example, your foot could easily slip off the pedal and cause a potentially serious accident.5
Shoes with Pointed Toes
You probably associate pointed toes with shoe styles such as high heels, but they come in low-heeled shoe styles, too. Shoes that are too narrow in the toe box can put a lot of pressure on the front of your foot, potentially inflaming nerves and damaging tissues.6 Wearing shoes that are too narrow might increase your risk of corns, calluses, and bunions. They might even increase the risk of a fall.7 Always opt for shoes that give your toes enough room to move.
Shoes and Posture
Another important reason to be careful when choosing shoes is the effect they can have on your posture. To minimize the amount of strain on your muscles and ligaments, good posture is critical. Good posture helps keep your joints and bones aligned properly, reducing the chances of abnormal join deterioration, strained muscles, pain, and fatigue. High heels, and other shoe styles, can sometimes lead to posture problems – and the consequences that come with them.8
A shoe that supports arches can also help ensure good posture. Footwear, and devices that provide added arch support, have been shown to stabilize the feet and help improve posture.9
Tips on Buying the Right Shoes
There are a lot of considerations you should take into account when buying new shoes – things you might not have thought of previously. Following these tips could help ensure that your shoes fit perfectly. It may also help to reduce your risk of foot issues down the road.
Don’t assume your regular shoe size will work with all kinds of shoe styles. Different brands and styles may be sized slightly differently. Ideally, try to try on the shoes before you buy them.
Also, make sure you get an accurate measurement of your foot size each year. Some people have different-sized feet, and, in many instances, a person’s feet will get larger as they age.
Try to purchase shoes later in the afternoon, if possible. The reason is your feet swell during the day. If the shoes you try on later in the day feel good, that’s a sign they’ll be comfortable no matter when you wear them.
Also, try to allow for about a half an inch between the tip of the shoe and the end of your longest toe. This will reduce the chances of pain and blisters.10
The Bottom Line
The types of shoes you choose can have a major impact on your foot health and your overall health. Make sure your shoes fit comfortably, and that they provide the support you need. If you have any questions about what’s best for your feet, talk to a foot doctor.
Causes of Heel Pain (+ Helpful Ways To Fix It)
How To De-Stink Your Smelly Shoes (and save face!)
7 Common Foot Issues That Wreak Havoc on Runners