Listen to your feet.
If they’re screaming, or even whimpering, your shoes might be to blame. High heels get a bad rap, but flipflops aren’t any better. And no matter what style shoe you’re wearing, it’s probably not wide enough.
“That’s what keeps us in business,” said Dr. William Hahn, a podiatrist in the Wound Healing Center at Good Samaritan Hospital. “When people come in, I draw their foot, and then I draw their shoe on a piece of paper, and I put it over their foot, and the difference is amazing – it’s a quarter inch on each side. You can’t be putting a bushel in a peck.”
Feet also come in two types – flat or with arches.
“The most important thing is the structure of your foot – it dictates what you wear,” Dr. Hahn said, noting the majority of people have flat feet and need some arch support.
That’s where the flipflop steps into trouble – the flat sandal offers absolutely no support. Worse, it offers no protection, which can be dangerous for diabetics, who may not have feeling in their feet.
Ballet flats are undeniably cute, but it’s the structure inside the shoe that matters – is there arch support?
“A running shoe is a better shoe to wear,” Dr. Hahn said, and he gives a nod of approval to Crocs, with their roomy toe box, arch support and protection.
And as for the high heel?
“Think about it,” Dr. Hahn said. “You’re pushing all your weight forward.” The result can be hammer toes, although some people with heel pain do find relief with a moderate heel.
A better solution for those with foot problems is orthotics. Custom-made ones are best, but if you use over-the-counter ones, they should be replaced every couple of months.
When shoe shopping, Dr. Hahn suggests going in the afternoon and trying on both shoes because feet tend to be different sizes. And if you fall in love with that cute ballet flat with no support?
Plenty of people wear shoes without support for years and don’t have problems, “but eventually it catches up to you,” he says. “Listen to your feet – when they hurt you, you need to go in something that’s supportive.”