Healthy Shoes to Combat Foot Pain

Be kinder to your feet, armed with our summer shoe know-how.
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With summer almost here, it's time to slip into strappy sandals and delicate mules. But before you do, check out these foot- and joint-saving tips from orthopedic surgeon Carol Frey, MD, assistant clinical professor at UCLA.

Shoe Style: Flats

Health Hazard: Without enough cushioning or arch support, flats can exacerbate a type of heel pain called plantar fasciitis and overstretch the Achilles tendon. Fast Fixes: Avoid walking long distances in them. Add a cushioned insert for arch support, or opt for flat with a 1-inch heel to take stress off the back of your foot.

Shoe Style: Flip-Flops

Health Hazard: Though flip-flops usually allow the feet to move and bend naturally, having to use foot muscles to grip the shoe so it doesn't slip off can cause arch strain. Fast Fixes: Get a snug fit. With the flip-flop on, you should be able to slide just your index finger under the top strap. Anything looser or tighter could cause blisters or pain.

Shoe Style: High Heels

Health Hazard: Heels shift your body weight forward, overworking your knees. Over time this can wear down cartilage, which could contribute to osteoarthritis. Pressure on the ball of the foot can also cause pain. Fast Fixes: Choose lower, wider heels. Avoid wearing stilettos for more than a few hours at a time; when you do slip on high heels, use a padded insert to cushion the ball of your foot.

Shoe Style: Pointed-Toe

Health Hazard: Crowding of the toes can cause ingrown toenails and a curling up of the toes known as hammertoe, as well as bunions, calluses, and corns. Fast Fixes: Look for a wide toebox to give your tootsies plenty of wiggle room. Shop in the afternoon (when your feet are swollen) so you're sure to select a big enough size.

Shoe Style: Wedges

Health Hazard: A steep wedge puts risky pressure on the knees and ball of the foot, the same way high heels do. Fast Fixes: Look for a platform beneath the front of the foot and a lower heel incline to more evenly distribute weight throughout the entire foot.

 

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