3 Footwear Features That Can Cause Foot Pain

A good pair of shoes can make you feel like you are floating on air, but the wrong pair can seriously mess up your feet. Here are three harmful footwear features to look out for and avoid.

1. Raised Heels

High-heeled shoes push your body weight forward onto the balls of the feet. Over time, this can lead to pain in the balls of the feet. High heels also cause a shortening of the Achilles tendons which can present as pain in the backs of the heels.

It's not only stilettos and kitten heels that cause this kind of pain. Many athletic shoes and men's dress shoes have a significant difference in height between the heel and the toe. If you are used to walking in shoes with a raised heel, you might find switching to flat shoes strange or uncomfortable at first, but over time your tendons should stretch to allow you to stand and walk with a better weight balance between your toes and heels.

2. Narrow Toe Boxes

One of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing shoes is purchasing ones that are too narrow in the toe box. You should be able to spread your toes inside your shoe. It should not feel like the sides of the shoe are pressing on your big and little toe.

If you struggle to find shoes that are wide enough in the toe box, try looking into "barefoot" or "minimalist" brands of shoes. These shoes are designed to mirror the shape of a natural foot. Although they can look a bit goofy with their wide, square fronts, they should bring relief if you suffer with pain in the forefoot. This kind of shoe is brilliant for preventing bunions, which are caused by shoes that push the big toe inwards.

3. Arch Support

Arch support is a mixed blessing. For some people, arch support provides the structure their foot needs to function properly. For others, arch support can actually make foot pain worse.

The arch of a human foot evolved to flatten and flex every time you take a step. Arch support can prevent this natural movement, leading to plantar fasciitis and other painful foot conditions. On the other hand, the support can be useful if you have a highly pronated gait that needs to be corrected. If you are not sure whether arch support is helping or contributing to your foot pain, see a podiatrist for advice.

If you struggle with foot pain, reach out to a professional.