Your knees support your weight during every step you take. Did you know that the shoes you wear might make the difference between enjoying your walk and walking in pain?
Shoes with good support keep the knee in alignment, reducing the potential causes of pain. Proper arch support can keep feet from rotating inward or pronating. Cushioning in the shoes can also reduce shock that can happen with each step.
Being closer to the ground is better for thigh muscles, as it requires them to work less hard. High heels tend to tip people forward, forcing the quadriceps to work harder to keep the knee in place. According to the Arthritis Foundation, different kinds of shoes can cause different kinds of problems for knees and feet.
What Kinds of Shoes Should You Be Wearing?
Women, particularly professionals, often feel required to wear heels in order to be perceived as well-dressed. However, high heels cause you to walk in an unnatural way, with your weight pushed forward onto your toe bones. Stilettos take that to a more extreme level, shifting even more of your weight forward and providing little stability in the back, making it very easy to sprain your ankle. In extreme cases, too much pressure on the front of the foot can even cause hairline fractures in your bones.
If you need to wear high heels above two inches, look for a cupped heel, a cradle toe area, and an anatomical arch. These features can help better distribute weight. Lower heels can also cause problems, but to a lesser degree. Look for wide toe boxes, rubber soles, and wedge heels. They provide more support and stability than the narrower heel.
When shoes like these have no arch supports in them - and they usually don’t - they put a great deal of pressure on your knees, hips, and back. This happens even more so when you’re on your feet a lot. Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that occurs when fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot between your heel and toes becomes in inflamed from being overstretched.
This causes extreme pain in the heels, especially when you put weight on your feet after first getting out of bed or when you stand up after sitting for a long period of time. In extreme cases, the fascia can actually tear.
Sandals & Open-Back Shoes
As for sandals, if knee pain is a problem, look for sandals with support. Straps keep the foot in place and allow for stability and a better fit. Back straps keep toes from gripping the edge of shoes. Clogs with open backs can be bad for knees and cause other foot problems because toes need to grip to stay in the shoe. Look for clogs with a closed back for more support.
Shoes with a Pointed Toe
This problem isn’t confined to women’s footwear - many men’s shoes also have very pointed toes that do not conform to the natural shape of the foot. Squeezing your toes into a pointy shoe can deform your bones, creating bunions and hammertoes.
A hammertoe occurs when a toe that’s been pushed into a shoe that’s too tight begins to bend in an abnormal way, and it can become rigid to the point where it requires surgery to correct. A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. While a tendency for bunions is hereditary, a pointed shoe that continually puts pressure on this area can trigger one. People with rheumatoid arthritis are especially at risk for developing bunions.
Athletic shoes often have a cushioned midsole and heel to help control over-pronation and other motion that is bad for the knee. If you over-pronate, a stability sneaker might be the best bet because they can take the pressure off of the ball of the foot.
Boots can be a good option because they often help stabilize the ankle and the foot, keeping them in alignment. High-heeled boots can cause the same problems as other types of heels, so they are not a great option for people with knee pain.
How to Prevent Knee Pain with Your Shoes
The key to preventing knee pain is to look for shoes with:
- Cushioning to absorb some of the shock that comes from hitting the ground, preventing shock to the knees
- Good soles and firm midsoles to keep your foot from pronating, causing the knee to rotate
- Lower heels to reduce the force that stilettos and other high heels place on the kneecap
Problems that Come from the Wrong Shoes
Shoes that don’t fit right, provide poor support, or squeeze your feet into an unnatural shape don’t just cause foot problems and foot pain. Over time, they can cause issues throughout the body, including the ankles, knees, hips, and back.
For example, a poorly-fitting shoe can also cause your feet to roll unnaturally inward or outward, creating back pain and increased stress on your knees and hips.
One study showed that people who frequently wear heels actually have a higher risk for developing osteoarthritis in their knees, as well as a greater likelihood of experiencing low back and foot pain later in life. In addition, heels tend to cause your calf muscles to become weak, creating instability when you walk and overall strain on your body. If you already suffer from arthritis, the wrong shoes can make your pain far worse.
However, the right shoes can greatly improve your posture, reduce your pain, and make you more stable while walking and standing.
What to Do
First, don’t assume that the right shoes for you have to be ugly and unstylish. Most experts say that you can wear a well-made shoe with a heel of two inches or less without significant problems. Shoe designers are getting very smart as well, creating sandals with good arch support, as well as “performance pumps” that are dressy shoes with the structure of an athletic shoe. additionally, shoe inserts can compensate for the lack of an arch support in many types of footwear.
Before buying shoes, make sure to get a proper fitting. The height of your instep, width of your foot, the way you walk and stand, your weight, and your job all play a part in getting the best possible fit. Studies show that most people tend to wear shoes that are too small for them, so getting a fitting at a good shoe store is recommended to get the best fitting shoes.
If you’re already experiencing foot and ankle pain, you’ll want to get checked out by a joint specialist first to ensure your problems don’t require specific treatment. Here at Flexogenix®, we address many degenerative foot and ankle issues using non-invasive regenerative treatments that allow your body to heal itself naturally.
Still Experiencing Knee Pain?
Are you experiencing knee pain? Contact us today to receive a free consultation. At Flexogenix, our board-certified physicians are 100% dedicated to non-surgical treatments, so you can find knee pain relief without risky surgery. See our reviews.