Have you ever bought a pair of non-supportive shoes because they look cute only to wear them and find that they leave your feet feeling uncomfortable and in pain? You’re not alone! We know it can be tempting and easy to justify purchasing a pair of cheap shoes without considering whether or not they are giving your feet the support they need, but it’s important to be mindful that cheap, unsupportive shoes can be doing more harm than good. We know that it can be tough to know the effects of wearing bad shoes without doing research, that’s why we’ve taken the guesswork out. We’re here to educate you on the ramifications of bad shoes and shoes without arch support. Keep reading as we take you through the worst shoes for your feet and what you need to look for in your shoes to make sure they have the supportive infrastructure your feet need to feel comfortable and supported all day long. At Vionic, we believe that when you are equipped with the information, you can make informed decisions about what the best shoes are for your feet and lifestyle (and know how to avoid bad shoes that leave your feet unsupported and in pain.)
We not only want to help you understand the short-term and long-term issues that can arise from wearing unsupportive footwear, but we have also earned a place in the industry as a trusted resource that has dedicated foot doctors, research teams, and shoe stylists, to make sure you never have to choose between style and support again. Along the way, we’ll educate you on why supportive footwear matters, the importance of finding the right fit, and the problems that can arise from wearing a bad pair of shoes.
Does Supportive Footwear Matter? Breaking Down The Why
Before we dive into the negative effects of wearing unsupportive footwear, first let’s review why having proper support in your shoe matters, one step at a time.
Have you ever been standing on an aisle looking at shoes and justified buying running shoes that you know aren’t supportive because they’re cute and will look great with your outfit? We’ve all been there. Many people equate footwear with protection for your feet, which is one of the main functions of shoes, but there is much more that matters that you should be looking for in your footwear. The second common misconception we encounter is when people believe that just because shoes are comfortable, they are supportive. Did you know that even when shoes are comfortable, if they don’t have the proper supportive infrastructure, the can lead to heel pain, foot pain, and a myriad of other potential foot problems over time? We believe that the key to understanding why support matters begins with looking back at how human beings’ history of treading on different surfaces has evolved over time and how the shifts that have taken place have had unintended consequences for foot health.
Human beings used to treat primarily on forgiving surfaces, such as dirt and sand, which are soft and contour to the foot when it meets them. However, over time, our relationships to the surfaces we tread on have evolved and changed with the world. Now, human beings primarily tread on hard, unforgiving surfaces, such as hardwood floors, concrete, marble, and tile, to name a few. While these surfaces are beautiful and functional, this change in surfaces has incurred unintended consequences as these surfaces are inflexible and do not contour to our feet. Because the surfaces are unforgiving, our feet instead try to contour to the ground, which can lead to heel pain, foot pain, and discomfort. So how do you prevent your feet from trying to contour to unforgiving surfaces? To give your feet the support they need, it’s vital to have footwear that provides your feet with cushioning, support, and contouring to the unique surface of your feet.
One of the key elements to look for in supportive shoes is proper arch support. The benefits of arch support impact your daily routine and foot health. Because of this, arch support is one of our most important features to look for in footwear to make sure your type of shoe benefits your feet. Did you know that with every step and stride you take, your arch absorbs the impact your body is thrusting on your feet? The arch of your foot bears two hundred thousand to three hundred thousand pounds of stress for every mile you walk, which is why it’s vital to make sure your feet have the arch support you need! Now that you know why proper support matters, it’s also important to take a look at why having shoes that fit properly is vital.
Finding the Right Fit: Why Your Fit Matters
By the time you’re an adult, it can be easy to think you have your shoe fit nailed down, but it’s actually incredibly common for people to wear shoes that are the incorrect length and width for their feet. It may seem simple to find shoes that fit, but it can actually be more difficult than you think. In addition, it can be common for individuals to buy up or down a half-size or full shoe size depending on the availability of the shoe they are looking for (we know a great sale price can be hard to say no to!). Did you know your shoe size can also change as you age as your tendons relax and your feet naturally begin to spread? For women, shoe size can also change due to pregnancy. There are many different factors that can affect your shoe size and how shoes will fit you, which is why we recommend being sized by a professional once or twice per year to make sure you’re wearing the right size and know what to look for in shoes to make sure they fit properly. Ill-fitting shoes can have a number of different consequences, which we will dive into more in the next section.
Now that you know why proper support and fit matter, let’s walk through the negative effects of wearing ill-fitting, unsupportive footwear.
The Consequences of Wearing Bad Shoes
When you think of the consequences of wearing bad shoes, you may think of discomfort and pain as the top negative effects. While these are two of the consequences of wearing bad shoes, there are many more short-term and long-term negative side effects that you can experience from wearing unsupportive, ill-fitting, or poorly made footwear. We’re here to help educate you on both the short-term and long-term consequences of wearing bad shoes so that you can make an informed decision the next time you are tempted by those cute, cheap shoes with no support. Below we have compiled basic information about a handful of the consequences of wearing bad shoes.
- Nail Problems: Did you know that ill-fitting shoes can actually cause you to develop nail and fungal problems as a result? If your shoes are placing pressure on the sides of your toes, it can actually push your skin into your nail plate, which can cause you to develop an ingrown toenail. An ingrown toenail occurs when the sides of the nail puncture the surrounding skin, which can cause pain and discomfort. In addition to developing ingrown toenails, if your footwear is too tight, you can also develop a fungal toenail infection. Fungal toenail infections can be unsightly because they cause your toenail to become brittle and discolored. Fungal toenail infections can develop due to a single instance or repeated, minor instances of trauma to your toes, which can actually lift your toenail enough that organisms can enter the nail bed under your nail plate and grow, developing into a fungal infection.
- Athlete’s Foot: Athlete’s foot is a common condition that is caused by a dermatophyte, which is a fungal species that lives on the skin. Athlete’s foot commonly develops in the areas of your foot that are prone to sweating, such as the webbing of the toes and under the arch of the foot. Athlete’s foot can be caused by shoes that are too tight and force the toes into the close proximity with each other. Consequences of athlete’s foot can include inflammation, flaking of the skin, and intense itching. Thankfully, investing in properly fitting footwear and an antifungal cream can help knock athlete’s foot out.
- Corns: Have you ever heard of corns? Corns are dead, hard skin that can develop over a bony prominence, such as on the side of your feet or toes. Corns are often caused by prolonged pressure being exerted on a specific area. When your shoes are too loose for example, they will slide and rub as they move in the shoes, which can exert pressure and cause a corn to develop. Corns can be very painful because they can contain blood vessels and/or nerve fibers. Corns can also attach themselves into the deeper soft tissues, which can make removing them in their entirety difficult.
- Pain/Discomfort: In addition to the conditions outlined above, you can also experience pain and/or discomfort due to wearing unsupportive, ill-fitting footwear. At Vionic, we believe that you should never have to choose between style and support. In fact, we’ve built our business on it! Whoever says that you have to be in pain to look great has never walked a mile in Vionic.
- Back Pain/Posture Problems: There are many long-term effects that can come from wearing supportive, ill-fitting footwear, including back pain and subsequent posture issues. You may be wondering how this can happen. Your shoes actually play an important role in the alignment of your body and your posture. When you wearing bad shoes for a prolonged period of time, lumbar spinal muscle action can become exacerbated. Over long periods of time, this can cause stiffening and changes in your posture to develop. In addition, lumbar intervertebral disc compression can develop, which can result in lower back pain.
- Joint Pain: In addition to back pain, bad shoes can also cause joint pain. When your footwear doesn’t have the proper supportive infrastructure, your knees can be forced to bend more to help reduce the shock your feet experience with each step you take. This subsequently can cause the muscles on the front of your thighs to have to work harder to help propel each of your steps forward. In the long-term, this can result in the development of knee pain and arthritis.
- Collapsed Arches: If you are wearing shoes that don’t offer proper support, one of the long-term foot problems can be fallen or collapsed arches. This can occur when the muscles at the back of the leg and the Achilles tendon are tight when walking, which can strain the ligaments that support the arch, the tendon of the muscle, and the plantar fascia. Over time, this prolonged strain can cause a lowering of the arch and associated pain in the arch and heel area of the foot.
Now that you know some of the short-term and long-term effects of bad shoes, you’ll have a better idea of why proper support and fit matters and what’s at stake when you buy an unsupportive, cheap type of shoes. The worst shoes for your feet are any shoes that don’t fit your feet properly and give your feet the support they need, regardless of the style of the shoe. Thankfully, orthopedic shoes help to prevent these issues from arising by giving your feet the support they need. If you’re looking for shoes with support and design, look no further than Vionic’s footwear. We’ve got you covered no matter what type of shoes you are looking for. Our mission is to create footwear that hugs your arches like a natural footprint and can enhance your wardrobe with the latest styles so that you can have comfort and pep in every step you take!