At your feet!

By Gul Nasreen
Tue, 08, 19

If the shoes you wear don’t give you the proper support, they can cause discomfort throughout your body. You! takes a look...


If you’ve ever hobbled off from a party with your heels in hand, you know shoes can easily cause foot pain. This holds true for all sorts of footwear, not just the special-occasion kind. Those pairs of office shoes, exercise shoes, and weekend-errand-running shoes that help you move around in the world? They can lead to pain if you’re not careful.

While there are many different styles of shoes that might catch your eye, but do bear in mind the comfort of your feet. Your feet do a lot for you and you should treat them well and avoid these shoe mistakes that can easily cause foot pain.

High heels

Heels are a stylish shoe choice for women, but they might also be one of the biggest shoe-related causes of foot pain. A recent study shows that heels that are 3½ inches or higher strains the knees which could increase a woman’s risk for osteoarthritis - a common chronic condition of the joints. It takes extra effort to balance the tilt caused by high heels by flexing or bending the hips and spine forward. In order to maintain balance, the hip, calf and back muscles become tense, and by the end of the day these muscles are extremely fatigued and strained. This continued practice for longer periods can make the calf muscles to cramp and bulge. To keep the body balanced on heels, your spine needs to sway unnaturally, which strains the muscles in your spine, causing a sore lower back.

“Wearing heels can cause a number of health issues like ankles bending forward as if one is standing on their tip toes; restricting the blood circulation in your lower limbs leading to spider veins; shrink the calf muscles and stiffen your Achilles tendon, resulting in pain and muscle spasms over a period of time. It is okay to wear high heels occasionally for a party or wedding function, but they should not make it a habit for wearing high heels for a longer period of time,” advises Orthopedic Surgeon Imran Ali Shah at Dr Shah Clinic in Karachi.

When it comes to donning heels during pregnancy, doctors strictly prohibit it as it can lead to serious harm to both. “Wearing high heels during pregnancy puts more stress on your already stressed lower back. Their posture changes slightly, putting more pressure on the knee and ankle joints as well. Moreover, there is also a greater of risk of expecting mothers tripping and falling; especially since they have a shift in their centre of gravity. Swelling (oedema) is very common, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy,” informs Obstetrician Dr Tasnim Sadiq.

Flats & Flip-flops

Many people love the toe-wiggling freedom flip-flops and other types of sandals offer, compared with sturdier shoes. But unfortunately, flip-flops lack support, which can ultimately lead to foot pain. They are unsupportive and frequently the cause of foot disorders such as plantar fasciitis, tendon problems, and ankle sprains. Newer biomechanically designed sandals should be chosen over flat flip-flops. Such sandals are designed with a foot bed to cradle the foot, which can improve balance and prevent pain.

Worn out shoes

When it comes to avoiding foot pain and advancing foot health, the advice on worn-out shoes is simple: Throw them out. Depending on the wear pattern, worn-out shoes can accentuate existing problems. Additionally, in regard to [worn] athletic shoes, the meagre insoles that are generally supplied by running shoe companies upon purchase have bottomed out and provide little, if any, shock absorption.

How to choose the perfect footwear

So what shoes should you wear? The answer to avoiding such problems in both the short and long term is, thankfully, really simple. Just be mindful of the footwear you buy, and how often you wear a particular style. Some things you should be on the lookout for when treating yourself to a new pair of shoes include the following:

Fitting: Ensure there is enough room in the front of your shoes (the ‘toe box’) to wiggle your toes freely. If the shoe is too tight here then you put yourself at risk of compression lesions and numbness.

Support: Ideally your shoes should have a fastening of some sort, which allow you to adjust the fit of your shoe when necessary. The shoes should have a slight heel gradient (around 20 - 40 mm high), be broad for stability and to offset any tightness that you may have in your Achilles tendon. The upper part of the shoe should be made of natural materials for general flexibility, durability and comfort.

Cushioning: Cushioning inside the shoe is great for comfort and the reduction of the shock of impact when landing on your heel and pushing off from the balls of your feet whilst walking.

Choose shoes that are firm in the midsole (between the heel and the toe box) so that you can’t twist them like a dishcloth.

Style: For heels, stick to mid-height heels (or if you must have stilettos, don’t plan to walk far in them or wear them for long periods). Avoid shoes that are too heavy or make you feel off-balance in the short time you wear them at the store. Make sure your shoes fit - shoes that are too tight or too loose, whether down at your toes or up at the top of a knee-high boot, won’t do.