Whether you walk, run, or work out regularly in them or not, your shoes take a toll on your body. In fact, ill-fitting footwear is the cause of the majority of foot problems. For this reason, getting people in proper shoes is a pillar of our practice, and the reason we’re so passionate about the shoes we stock in our clinic! The following health risks are ones you may see when you don’t wear the right shoes for long periods of time.
1. Higher risk of plantar fasciitis. Wearing flat shoes with no arch support (think: flip-flops or ballet flats) can leave the fascia – the band of tissue on the sole of your foot that runs from your heel bone to your toes – susceptible to overstretching and tearing. To avoid plantar fasciitis, make sure you limit the time you spend in flip flops, or invest in some quality ones that give your arches plenty of support.
2. Your toenails could get damaged, bruised, or become ingrown. Toes that are crammed into too-small shoes for too long can lead the nails to get damaged, or start growing to the shape of the shoe. Nails can cut into the skin and become infected. At their worst, ingrown toenails can require surgery.
3. Blisters form. We’ve all felt the pain of new shoes that have yet to be “broken in.” Ideally, you don’t actually have to allow for a break in period. Your shoes should feel good on from the get-go! Prevent blisters by making sure your shoes fit you right in the first place, and that you’re also using the right ones for the right activities (shoes made for golfing aren’t ideal for hiking, for example).
4. You start to feel soreness in the legs, hips, or lower back. 25% of the body’s bones are in your feet. When those bones are out of proper alignment, your whole body is. With your foot alignment compromised, your body is forced to compensate – what starts as stress on the arch, heel, and the rest of the foot can become stress on your legs, hips, and lower back.
5. You experience inflammation. Hey, high heel fans, take note: Metatarsalgia is one overuse injury caused by ill-fitting footwear – specifically high heels. Sky-high heels can force your feet into a position that puts stress on the ball of the foot, a critical joint where the long metatarsal bones meet the toe bones. Constant pressure here can inflame the bones or the nerves that surround them.
6. Your toes might start to grow funny. Wearing too-short or too-narrow footwear over time can actually lead to toe deformities. Hammertoes, or clawed toes, is one such condition that results when the toes (usually the second or third), are forced into a downward curling shape. This can uncomfortable when you walk, and when you stretch or even move your other toes.
When it comes to your shoes, don’t sell your sole. Take a look at our How to Choose Shoes infographic to make sure you’re choosing shoes right. Or, stop by our clinic and let us help you assess your footwear needs.