Trinidad Express / There are certain types of shoes that can cause and aggravate various foot and ankle problems. Constantly, I see patients with various foot problems that are caused by the shoes they are wearing. If you develop a foot pain of some sort, and have no explanation for how it began, always look to your shoes first. If a specific pain started a couple of days after wearing a new pair of shoes, look to them as the source of the problem. This is particularly true if you are having a similar pain in the same spot on both feet; the first place to look is at your shoes. With that said, let’s look at some of the culprits. Worn out shoes Shoes are built to serve a function, besides keeping us from stepping on broken glass and nails. Their primary goal is to support your feet in a particular manner, so that you can have a proper gait. Yes, some shoes are designed particularly for style, and less for support, but even those shoes have certain properties which help propel us. In general, once a shoe begins to fall apart, it starts to work against your ability to walk properly. This concept is of greater significance in athletic shoes, and other shoes which attempt to help certain foot types. Flip flops and very thin sandals I see an influx of plantar fasciitis, as a result of people wearing flip flops, and those who wear very flimsy slippers and sandals. Aside from the fact that these types of shoes barely protect your feet, the structure is one that opens you up to certain types of foot pain. These are shoes that were originally designed for the pool or beach, to be worn on a limited basis, solely to protect the bottom of the feet. As time has passed, they have become the everyday shoe for many people, and that is where the problem begins. These shoes offer absolutely no support through the arch and heel. Yes, there are some sandals and flip flops out there that have an arch support component to them, but I am talking about the flat, hard ones. Because they do not support the arch, those who are prone to developing plantar fasciitis have the problem exacerbated by wearing them. These types of shoes not only fail to support the arch, but because they are so flexible, they can cause the toes to over stretch. Consequently, they put a lot of pressure on the ball of the feet, resulting in metatarsalgia. The problem with flip flops and thin-soled sandals is worsened, if people have to suddenly run in them. Because they are not held firmly in place on the feet, people either fall, or at the very least, end up scuffing their feet, causing anywhere from minor to moderate trauma. Stiletto heels Just by looking at a pair of high heel shoes, one can see the potential for foot problems after wearing them. Sure they look great, but worn on an everyday basis, will lead to problems of one kind or another in most women. With that said, they will also cause an array of foot problems over time. Unique to these shoes is achilles tendonitis. For women who wear this type of shoe on a daily basis, over time the achilles tendon will begin to shorten. After years of wearing heels, many women will begin to notice, particularly when barefoot or wearing sandals or flip flops, there will be pain in the back of their heels. This is because the tendon has shortened to the point that when barefoot, a strain develops, that it begins to hurt, simply because it is too tight. Pain in the ball of the foot is another issue, due to the elevation of the heel, as most walking pressure is placed on the forefoot. Not only is more weight placed on the ball of the foot, but the angle of the toes relative to the metatarsal bones is increased, long before it should in a normal gait. Believe it or not, there is one condition where a stiletto heel may be of benefit, and that is in plantar fasciitis. How? As mentioned previously, when a woman wears a high heel, that takes the tension off the achilles tendon. Many anatomy experts consider the plantar fascial ligament to essentially be a continuation of the achilles tendon. So by decreasing the tension on the achilles tendon, you end up decreasing the tension on the plantar fascial ligament, diminishing the pain in those suffering from plantar fasciitis. Ballet shoes Ballet shoes have become very fashionable, so many women wear them regularly. The shoe would have better served mankind had it remained the shoe of choice for ballerinas. Once again, the problem with this shoe, is the flimsiness of the sole. Because the sole is extremely flexible, and absolutely lacks arch support, it’s an “accident waiting to happen” for many people. Similar to flip flops, ballet shoes do not control the function of the foot and for many, foot control in a shoe is needed for those whose foot type that is either too flat, or rigid. Like the other shoes described in this article, ballerina shoes increase the potential for plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia. The takeaway message here, which I wish to reiterate, is that any unexplained foot pain you may experience, check the shoes you wear regularly. Look at the wear marks under them; they tell a story about your pressure points and the rotations of the feet. Let’s face it, if you are receiving the best medical treatment known to mankind for your particular problem, but are still wearing shoes that aggravate your type of problem, the chances of you getting better are extremely slim. For those of you who just cannot give up wearing the shoes that you love, even though they may be the source of your foot problem, once small piece of advice would be to cut back on the frequency of use. Alternating shoes is not a bad idea. If you need advice on footwear or you are experiencing pains, see your Podiatrist; sooner, rather than later. Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them! Leana Huntley is a UK trained podiatrist attached to Almawi Limited The Holistic Clinic. E-mail [email protected] Tuesday – Saturday for the clinic, or visit the website at


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