The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Sorry Travelers, Foot Problems Aside, Shoes Still Must Go (But Knives are Fine)

Posted by on Monday, March 11th, 2013


After 9/11, we were all prepared for a little extra security. But almost 12 years later, taking off your shoes every time you step through security seems a little beyond ridiculous. Especially when you consider the caveats: since 2011, the TSA has allowed members of the military, people over 75 and children under 12 to keep their shoes on. So we’re not at all worried about terrorists enlisting old people and children? These are people who kill themselves to make a point. What’s even more galling: you can pay $100 for “prescreening” in which you get to keep your shoes on. So, if you’re well off, you don’t have to suffer. Boy does that sound familiar. And another thing, why are we all content to live with draconian (and in many cases ineffective) security measures at airports, when so many of us fight tooth and nail for laxer gun control laws, less government regulation, and fewer restrictions on businesses? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Politics aside, consider the very real pain and suffering shoe removal causes travelers. It’s not just a fashion thing for many people. It’s not just a minor inconvenience experienced once or twice a year, like when you’re making that once-in-a-lifetime trip to set sail on the Titanic II (though if you are, shoes may be the least of your worries.) If you’ve ever had a serious foot or ankle injury, you know exactly what I mean.

Removing shoes can be a 30-minute ordeal if you have a bunion. Extracting a broken toe from running shoes can be excruciating, and you’ll mess up your careful wrapping job in the process. If you have a wound on your foot, you may disturb stitches or break up a clot, causing bleeding and possible infection. If you’re a diabetic, your feet may swell between the time you take off your shoes and the time you try to put them back on again, leaving you shoe-less for the rest of your trip. Infection is also a major risk for the diabetic. A sock layer isn’t enough to protect a vulnerable foot from the trillions of world wise bacteria and fungal spores on that airport floor. You may not even be able to remove your own shoes if you have edema (swelling in your feet) for other reasons, arthritis, an injured back or hip, or if you’re over 6 months pregnant (edema and pregnancy foot growth along with a giant ungainly belly can make taking off shoes extremely difficult).

To add insult to injury, the TSA recently relaxed its rules about carrying small knives and blades (less than 2.36 inches, another arbitrary number). So dangerous weapons are okay but your regular, everyday shoes? Not so much.


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.