The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Shoe-icide: Five Shoe Styles That Will Hurt Your Feet

Posted by on Thursday, November 1st, 2012


Face it, barefoot enthusiasts–we still live in a world where people are expected to wear shoes. Now this is hardly a bad thing. I mean, people did start wearing shoes for good reasons: to protect their feet from sharp objects, to keep them warm, and to walk with less pain over long distances (hey, if the Romans thought their would soldiers march better without footwear, they certainly would have saved the money on the caliga worn by the everyday soldiers and made them go bare).

Like many articles of clothing, though, footwear has evolved from the simply utilitarian to the highly fashionable, where they’re even considered works of art. However, with that has come a level of impracticality in shoes that can not only make your feet hurt, but also cause all kinds of unhealthy foot conditions.

Here are five particularly terrible shoe styles that will damage your feet.

  1. Stilettos You knew this was coming, right? It’s pretty obvious–stilettos make you  walk on the balls of your feet with only pin thin support from the heels. This can lead to sesamoiditis, metatarsalgia, stress fractures, and, if the spiky shoe of choice is a pump, the infamous pump bump. Also, they tighten your quads, which puts stress on your knees, shorten your calf muscles, and cause shin splints. And here’s the topper–stilettos cause you to shorten your stride, which makes you walk slower; the difference between calories burned while walking in a stiletto wearer vs. a sneaker wearer can add up to five pounds a year!!! Ladies, I know you think you look good, but it’s just not worth it. Save the sky high stilettos for special occasions; for everyday wear, choose shoes that have lower, thicker heels.
  2. Pointy-toed shoes What’s worse than sky high stilettos? Sky high stilettos with pointy shaped toes. Even flat, these types of shoes can cause bunions, hammertoes, corns, and all kinds of other ugly, painful foot conditions. When high  heels are added, those poor toes are now being asked to support all your weight while they are being squished into a completely unnatural shape. This is a bad shoe style that is an equal gender  offender–many men’s dress shoes also feature pointed toes. Do your feet a huge favor and choose shoes that allow your toes to lie flat and natural.
  3. Flip flops Just because they’re flat and non-pointy doesn’t mean they’re good for you. Flip flops don’t offer any support, shock absorption, or protection from sharp or dangerous objects on the street. Since you keep them on by clutching with your toes and arch, you can’t take normal steps and will tire more easily. If you want to wear flip flops during the summer, choose styles with thicker soles to offer some protection and a shaped sole that will offer arch support. Overall, though, sandals made for sports or hiking are a better choice.
  4. Ballet Flats Again, I know, these look like the perfect antidote to the pointy-toed stilettos, but they cause their own host of problems. Like flip-flops, they offer no support or shock absorption. Without any support for your arches, you may end up with plantar fasciitis, a painful heel condition caused by strained arches (by the way, UGGs are kind of the winter equivalent of ballet flats). There is actually a way you can make these work, though–you can buy insoles that offer arch support at a drugstore and just slip them into your shoes. If you find that you are having overall arch and heel pain, or try the drugstore version of insoles and find that they’re making your feet feel a lot better, you may want to consider seeing a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine ( 212.996.1900 ) and see if more durable, custom-fit orthotics are right for you.
  5. Rocker bottom/Toning Shoes Now these are the big surprise–surely you’re thinking, “Whaaaat? Those big, comfy-soled shoes that are supposed to give your legs an extra workout while you’re walking? What could be wrong with those?” Well, first of all, you can stop believing (if you still do) that these shoes really do equal a leg workout, as a suit against Reebok disproved. They do, however, create some serious problems: they keep your arches from flexing the right way, which can cause your arches to fall, and also cause instability which can lead to tendonitis, as well as foot, leg, and hip pain. Rocker bottom shoes were originally designed for people who had a specific foot need, notably inflexibility in their foot or toes, typically caused by arthritis. If your podiatrist tells you to get rocker bottom shoes because of a specific foot problem you have, then you should wear them. If you don’t have a reason to wear them, don’t.

Shoes shouldn’t damage or hurt your feet. Choose shoes that make your feet feel as good as they look!!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.