Are Flat Shoes Better for Your Feet?

Whether you’re healing a condition like plantar fasciitis or proactively prioritizing your foot health, you may be wondering what shoes are best for your feet. While there’s no one-shoe-fits-all solution, certain styles can have specific benefits for your health and overall well-being, like improving your posture and relieving lower back pain.

With an onslaught of information and your own unique needs, it can be confusing to navigate the world of footwear, especially when it comes to comfort. While stilettos probably aren’t the solution (at least not all the time), are flat shoes better for your feet? Or are flat shoes bad for your feet?

In this guide, we’ll explore whether flat shoes really are a better option for your feet, compare how they stack up against heeled shoes, and discuss the potential benefits of switching to more comfortable styles.


How Flat Shoes Stack Up Against Heels

When you’re looking for a pair of stylish shoes that are good for your body, you may think that flat shoes lack the support and cushioning your feet need. While this can be the case with certain styles and retailers, there are plenty of flat shoes for women (especially those with built-in orthotics) that offer the structure you need while offering many benefits over heeled shoes. 

High heels cause you to put your entire weight on the balls of your feet, which can put pressure on your toes and the front of your foot, eventually increasing the chances of foot pain. Instead, flat shoes help to distribute your weight evenly, which also prevents your toes from bunching together, helping you steer clear of blisters, calluses, and bunions. If you suffer from any of the foot problems just listed, it may be time to look for a more cushioned shoe.

Shoes with high heels may also position your body into an unnatural stance, shifting your lower body forward and forcing your upper body to compensate by leaning back. This means that flatter footwear helps keep your body in a more neutral, natural position so you can avoid muscle strain and prevent unnecessary wear on your bones and joints. 


Do Flat Shoes Provide Enough Support for Foot Health?

Flat shoes may help you avoid certain health issues that a sky-high heel can cause, but do they provide enough support to encourage overall foot health? Yes, but not always. Some flat shoes provide little to no cushioning or arch support, which can be bad for your feet and overall health, regardless of the heel height. 

Thankfully there are a variety of flat, supportive shoe options that offer the contoured arch and thick, supportive soles your feet need to feel good, such as the Orinda Square Toe Ballet Flat. A well-fitting flat shoe should have a few key components to provide your foot with enough support to keep you comfortable and prevent injury. 

Here’s what to look for:

  • Padding and cushioning that minimizes the impact of your body coming into contact with the ground as you walk
  • A snug fit that keeps your foot secure, thus preventing pressure on your spine
  • Structured support in the sole and sides of the shoe ensures your foot and ankle won’t roll out or pronate inward, leading to unnecessary pressure

When it comes to shopping for the right shoe, you’ll want to prioritize the fit and feel. Consider how the shoe fits not only in terms of length but width as well. Your shoes should be snug without feeling tight and allow plenty of room in the toe box for your toes to wiggle and move throughout the day. 


Are There Any Risks Associated with Wearing Flat Shoes?

Just like wearing high heels for extended periods, wearing flat shoes that lack structure and support can also lead to the development of certain foot-related health conditions. So, are flats bad for your feet? Not if they offer the support and padding you need. 

Here are some conditions that may develop if you frequently wear flat shoes that don’t have enough cushioning and structure.


Plantar Fasciitis

Wearing shoes with inadequate arch support can lead to the development of a painful condition called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fascia is the tissue that connects your heel to your toes, forming the arch of your foot. If you wear shoes that don’t have enough support and cushioning, it can cause this tissue to stretch, creating small tears in the fascia and leading to inflammation and pain. 

While flat shoes can cause this condition, it’s important to remember that it’s more about proper arch support than the heel of the shoe since high heels that lack support can also lead to plantar fasciitis. 


Achilles Tendonitis

Your Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. Without proper support, the arch of your foot can flatten, forcing your Achilles tendon to stretch. This extra pressure can lead to Achilles tendonitis, which makes this tendon stiff and painful. 

Similar to plantar fasciitis, you can prevent Achilles tendonitis by opting for footwear with the arch support, structure, and cushioning your feet and ankles need. 


Can Flat Shoes Help Alleviate Foot Pain and Discomfort?

If you’ve been wearing heels for extended periods of time, you may notice that your feet ache from putting pressure on the balls of your feet and toes. In this case, switching to a style with a flatter sole can help redistribute your body weight and alleviate pain in your arches and surrounding foot muscles. However, if you swap your stilettos for a flat shoe with no cushioning or support, you won’t notice pain relief for long.

In order to help support your foot health and alignment, the flat shoes you choose need to have enough padding, arch support, and orthotic devices. If you have neutral arches, you may not notice significant foot pain, but for those with high or low arches, adequate support and shoe cushioning are a must when trying to relieve or prevent foot pain. Before choosing a supportive shoe, be sure you fully understand your foot shape so you can find comfortable shoes that offer the best support for your unique needs.


What Are the Potential Benefits of Switching to Flat Shoes?

Switching to a pair of comfortable, supportive flats can offer a variety of benefits.


Providing Room for Your Toes to Move

High-heeled shoes tend to have narrow toe boxes, making it difficult for your toes to stretch and move freely. Shoes with pointed toes and a high heel can cause pain, toe cramps, and ingrown toenails. Instead, supportive flat shoes put less pressure on the front of your feet and give your toes some much-needed breathing room.


Improving Mobility

Not only is wearing a proper supportive shoe linked to less foot pain, but it also offers increased mobility. Shoes with high heels keep your foot in one position, balancing your weight on the ball of your foot and a thin, tall heel, whereas flat shoes offer increased stability and flexibility. 

This means that in a pair of well-fitting and cushioned flat shoes, your feet can bend, flex, and move naturally throughout the day. By choosing a pair of supportive flats, like the Alameda Mary Jane Flat, you may feel more comfortable standing and walking throughout your day, even if you spend a lot of time on your feet.


Improving Your Posture

Not only can ill-fitting shoes affect your feet, but they can also have a serious impact on your spine and posture. If you have good posture, your weight distributes evenly across both feet when you stand, allowing you to maintain a neutral spine.

When you wear high heels, the unnatural shift of weight to the front of your feet affects the alignment of your body overall, which can have long-term consequences for your spine and overall well-being. This means that supportive flats, like the Klara Ballet Flat, make it easier for you to maintain a neutral spine and good posture, preventing back pain down the line.


Avoiding Foot Pain While Looking Stylish

With today’s variety of flat shoes that offer built-in orthotics, you don’t have to sacrifice fashion for comfort—the Klara Knit Ballet Flat is a great example. You can find a variety of styles that suit your look without having to worry about your foot health or safety.


Are Flat Shoes Suitable for Long-Term Wear and Daily Activities?

As with high heels, you may want to avoid wearing completely flat shoes all the time. However, with the right orthotics and arch support, even these styles can be comfortable and healthy for your feet. 

For long-term wear, you may want to opt for a comfortable style like sneakers, especially if you spend several hours walking or on your feet during the day. However, it’s more important to worry about the fit and features of a shoe than its exact heel height, since your posture, bodily alignment, and foot health all depend on supported arches and well-aligned feet. 


Find the Right Fit with Vionic

When you’re searching for stylish flat shoes, it’s crucial to find a pair that offers the width, arch support, and cushioning you need. At Vionic, all of our flats, flip flops, boots, and sneaker styles come with built-in orthotics. 

With your health in mind, we offer a range of widths and sizes so you find the perfect fit, whether you’re headed to the office, for a walk in the park, or for a night out. For added support, check out our cutting-edge Vio-Motion Technology, which offers the stability and padding your soles need without sacrificing style. 

Keep your feet healthy and put your best foot forward with Vionic.



Feet by Pody. Are Flat Shoes Really Better? 

Foot and Ankle Centers. 5 Benefits of Wearing Supportive Flats. 

Sandars Podiatry. Are Flat Shoes Good for Your Feet?   

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