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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Sunnybrook

5885 Sunnybrook Drive
Sioux City, IA 51106

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The Ugly Truth Behind Your Favorite Shoes

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Every day we make the conscious choice of what shoes to wear based on our daily activities and time spent on our feet. Unfortunately, we often ignore the warning signs of the damages caused by particular shoes. If an hour is painful for our feet, think about the damage done throughout the entire day and days to come. From stilettos to flip-flops, find out what damages can come from different styles of shoes.

Shoes that hurt our feet

Foot & Ankle Injuries

While sometimes unavoidable, ankle sprains, tendon tears & fractures can be prevented if the proper shoes are worn. The most common shoes to cause ankle injury are heels like the following:

  • Stilettos
  • Wedges
  • Platforms
  • Pumps

Any shoe that makes it difficult to take a single step is naturally going to put us at a higher risk for injury. High heels put extra stress on our ankles and increase our likelihood of ankle injury. The balancing act stems from stilettos may not be worth the risk. Opt for a lower heel for more support and less stress on your ankle.

Heel Pain

Heel pain is described as a shooting pain that travels from the bottom of one’s foot. It stems from inflammation in a ligament known as the plantar fascia. The pain is caused by having a tight Achilles tendon that can be exacerbated from high heels. Heel pain can also be a result of wearing shoe gear without adequate support such as:

  • Sandals
  • Flip Flops 
  • Ballet Flats

While the flat shoes might be your go-to in the summertime, they can also be your worst enemy. These shoes lack the support for your foot to function through its natural gait cycle. Over time, this lack of support can cause a multitude of disorders and pain in your foot and the pain will linger until cared for properly.


We most often associate arthritis with the joints in our hands, but it is problematic in our feet as well. Cartilage acts as a cushion for our joints when we move. When that cartilage wears over time, our bones begin to rub together causing severe discomfort and pain.

If you develop arthritis in your feet, it can cause your feet to change shape over time. This can cause pain when putting on uncomfortable or tight-fitting shoes. The right shoes should allow for deformities of the foot such as hammertoes and bunions. It should also provide enough support by hugging up to the foot in areas that need it. Avoid the following if you have arthritis in your feet;

Tight fitting shoes

  • High Heels that cause pressure on the ball of the foot 
  • Flats or flip flops without adequate support. 
  • DO wear a comfortable cross-training shoe when you anticipate extended periods of time on your feet. 

Muscle & Tendon Problems

Have you ever noticed the strain that your feet go through after a long day in flats or flip flops. When your feet don't get the support they need, the tendons and muscles that make up our feet and ankle become stressed. Overexertion of the muscles and tendons may result in discomfort or even tears in both muscles and tendons.

Depending on your level of activity, find a shoe that adequately supports your feet throughout the day. Avoid shoes with little to no support like flats & flips flops.

Nerve Disorders

A common form of nerve disorders in feet is called peripheral neuropathy. Nerve damage results from a wide variety of reasons, including injury or infection. The discomfort often feels like a sharp stabbing or burning sensation in the foot. It’s also a cause for numbness that can result in an infection or injuries to the feet. Always wear shoes to protect your feet. Avoid shoes that leave your feet prone to injury, like sandals both flat and heeled.

Diabetic neuropathy is also something to consider when picking appropriate shoe wear. Just as peripheral neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy causes numbness of the foot that leaves it prone to injury if left exposed.

Shoes that leave the foot exposed to potential injury are not advised. Always wear socks with an extremely supportive shoe like a cross-training shoe. Besides the proper shoewear, it’s important to inspect your feet daily to ensure injury hasn’t occurred without your knowledge.

Skin & Toenail Disorders

Avoid both tight fitting shoes like sharply pointed pumps and shoes with unbreathable fabrics to prevent most common skin and toenail disorders. High levels of moisture can cause the skin on our feet to break down leaving them more prone to infection.

Ingrown toenails: Wear shoes that give you plenty of wiggle room for the toes. When you wear narrow shoes, the pressure on the toe can cause an ingrown toenail. Prevent it by avoiding pumps and stilettos that place too much pressure on the toes.

Athletes Foot: Wear shoes that are highly breathable to keep your feet as dry as possible. If you are wearing shoes with little ventilation, be sure to change your socks regularly to prevent moisture from gathering.

Best Walking Shoes

Dr. Kosta Antonopoulos

"A good shoe isn’t necessarily what is in style. It is something that provides adequate support, protection and cushion that allows your foot, ankle and legs to function in a biomechanically sound manner." 

Dr. Kosta Antonopoulos, DPM AACFAS

Not all foot issues can are avoidable, but we can do our best to prevent damage caused naturally or by our shoe style choices. Do your best to put your health ahead of the latest fashion trends to have a lifetime of active and pain-free feet! If your feet are feeling pain, you don’t have to live through it. The foot and ankle specialists in Sioux City can help relieve your pain and help you live a healthy and active lifestyle!