Could these 4 types of footwear be harming your feet?

A lot has been said about high heels and stilettos harming one’s feet and leading to back problems, joint pain and even osteoarthritis. But it doesn’t mean flat shoes are safe for your feet. Jacqueline Sutera, a doctor of podiatric medicine and surgery, and Neal Blitz, Chief of Foot Surgery and Associate Chairman of Orthopedics at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital and the creator of the Bunionplasty, share the dangers of some popular footwear choices, reports

Stilettos: Wearing heels for long hours, shifts your weight to the balls of your feet which puts pressure on your foot. The sky-high heels can cause ankle sprains, mid-foot fractures, neuromas (benign nerve tumours). Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City fame had confessed how wearing high heels every day had taken a toll on her feet, resulting in the growth of an extra bone. (Read: The stilettos offer – get arthritis, slipped disc and other feet problems, free)

Platform wedges: Wedges also have heels which put pressure on foot. But the heels generally have more cushion. They often have platforms, which protect the ball of your foot and reduce the incline. But you can suffer similar ailments due to heels. They may be a safer bet than those pencil heels but aren’t good enough in the long run.

Flip-flops: Most flip-flops are too flat, too thin and too open. This exposes the foot to the environment and doesn’t provide arch support or cushioning. The thong between your toes is also dangerous as it forces your toe muscles to over-grip. Wearing these shoes can cause inflammation, heel pain, strains and fractures. The humble flip-flop is best restricted to be worn inside the house or on the beach. Wearing them on a daily basis could spoil your feet.

Running sneakers: You might think sneakers are your best bet but if you opt for too light-on-the-feet ones, they may lead to some foot problems later. Too much cushion is not the best thing. When you have a lot of cushion, you’re not getting the foot-brain feedback that allows you to sense the ground. These shoes are ideal for forward motion like running, walking, jogging (not hiking, dancing, cycling, etc). Wearing these shoes can cause chronic stress injuries, particularly to the heel.

Go barefoot
One option to save your feet from bad footwear is to not wear them anymore. A new trend that’s steadily catching up is going barefoot or wearing shoes which are barely there, just to ensure a protective covering but at the same time giving you a feel of being barefooted.

According to India’s first certified barefoot trainer Sharath Raju, ‘ If we reduce the sensory feedback from our feet to our brains by wearing thick, shock-absorbing soles then the brain has less information to work with, reducing the quality of the movement pattern produced.’

However, that does not seem to be a plausible option on a regular basis. It is thus essential to ensure that you wear comfortable shoes at the very least, make sure you don’t put unnecessary pressure on your feet and stick to wearing the right shoes at the right time – restrict flip-flops to home, sneakers while running, walking and heels when minimum walking is required.

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