With so many high street stores putting up a range of designer footwear at present, seasonal trends are a way of life. Often when shoe shopping, buyers tend to give in to these special collections and health may not be the first thing they’d have in mind. However, the shoes that we wear everyday are important for our health.

Poorly-fitted shoes or inappropriately designed footwear can give rise to a number of short and long health complications in future. These health problems caused but wrong shoes, may also impact the other body parts as well.

At the age of 60, 70% of women suffer from osteoarthritis in their feet, because of the use of too small shoe size. Major feet problems appear between the ages of 40s and 50s. [1]

Short-term health problems caused by wrong shoes

Wrong Shoe Size Selection

Shoes with a poor fit can instantly cause harm to your feet. Here we describe some common conditions of the foot that almost immediately impacts your health, but mostly remain for a short period of time.

Corns

The formation of hard dead skin over a bony joint like structure is a common complaint from wearing uncomfortable shoes. Corns develop due to pressure applied to a certain area of your foot for long caused by poorly fitted footwear.

Poorly or tight fitting shoes are the main cause of calluses and corns according to “Patient“.

If your foot doesn’t sit in properly in your shoe that can also lead to problems. Shoes that allow your foot to spread easily, but leaves extra room can be too loose for your foot to slide in and rub. Also, if your footwear is designed in such a manner such that it may put pressure on a specific point on your foot, it might just be the reason to cause corns.

Ingrown nails

One common foot problem from wearing the wrong type of shoe is infection from ingrown nails. In this, the toenail usually digs into the corners of your skin, which irritates the skin causing pain, swelling and redness. “Approx 1 in 38 or 2.60% or 7.1 million people in USA report incidence of ingrown nails.”[1] Podiatrists at PodiatryInfoCanada elaborate more on this:

Tight, poor shoe structure and poor shoe size (shoe pressure) are the main causes of Ingrown nails (nails whose corners dig into the toes skin) and often causing infections. 

In addition, fungal infections can cause nail discoloration and brittleness. The trauma can lift the normal skin from the nail bed, which enables microscopic organisms from dwelling at the site potently. This out and out infection can cause further complications to the nail at times. The unsightly nail bed can also affect your self esteem.

To prevent toe nail infections, avoid wearing tight socks and footwear. The pressure can cause repetitive trauma. The moist environment created can allow fungal spores to grow, thus further causing damage to your nail.

Athlete’s foot

A contagious dermal infection of the foot caused by the ringworm fungus (Dermatophyte) is a condition commonly seen in athletes. It occurs in people with a sweaty foot due to continuously wearing tight fitting shoes. Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot include itching, stinging and burning of the scaly rash.

According to “The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA)” who gives a very good description of Athlete’s foot,  fungus attacks the feet because many shoes create a dark and moist environment, encouraging the fungus growth. So take care of your feet hygiene with the easy steps below.

  1. wear airy and light shoes
  2. wash your feet daily with water and soap
  3. change socks regularly to decrease moisture.”

Avoid walking barefoot as the condition is spreadable . Use shower shoes in public showers. The warmth and dampness along showers, swimming pools, and the locker room are the breeding ground for fungi. Maintain good foot hygiene before the condition spreads to the toenails.

Long-term health problems caused by wrong shoes

Wearing the wrong pair of shoes leads to ill-health conditions for the long term. Not just that, down the line it doesn’t actually limit to your feet only. Here are some of the other illnesses that could occur:

Flat feet

If you have a flat foot, you do not have a normal arch while standing. It is easy to spot fallen arches by looking at your footprints. Complete footprints are signs of a flatfoot. Factors such as illness, injury, or aging can cause harm to the tendons, thus resulting in flat feet.

“About 19% of the U.S. population has an average of 1.4 foot problems each year, of which 6% of the U.S. population suffer from foot injuries, bunions, flat feet or fallen arches.”[3]

Those people who have problems with Achilles Tendon due to tightness from the flat foot condition will not benefit from wearing no heels at all. Flat shoes are just as bad as super-high heels. “Unlike heels, which put all the pressure on the balls of your feet, flats add extra pressure to your heel, without any arch support, according to podiatrist Hillary Brenner, DPM. Additionally, “a heel will lead to stress on the outside of the knee,” says Miguel Cunha, DPM, at Gotham Footcare. “A flat will lead to stress on the inside of the knee.”[4]

Without a proper arch support and shock absorption for the feet, people with flatter feet are at a greater risk of getting stress fractures and nerve enlargement between bones.

Back pain

Wearing improper footwear can target your back muscles and lead to grave health problems over time. Prolonged stress on the spinal muscle due to overuse can result in postural changes. Lower back pain is a common condition with those wearing high heels. Make sure the footwear is designed properly at all times.

If it’s a heel, the make should be good enough to bear the strain caused over time and not affect your lower back.

Joint pain

Along with back pain, ill-fitted shoes, especially heels can cause all sorts of joint problems. Shoes that don’t provide adequate support will also mean reduced shock absorption when the foot hits the ground.

Ill-fitted footwear can cause multiple problems such as various deformities around larger foot joints. The choice of shoe also affects breathing movements and vocal cord health.

Steps to prevent problems with the wrong shoe size

  1. The first thing to remember is to find shoes for yourself that leaves some room in front to help wriggle your toes freely. A tight fitting shoe can put your feet at risk of compression and stiffening.
  2. Some sort of fastening can be great to adjust your feet inside the shoes you’re wearing.
  3. There should be some slight heel to offset any tightness in the Achilles Tendon.
  4. Generally, the upper part of your shoe should be made of materials that provide comfort, flexibility, and durability.
  5. Shoes with proper cushioning inside is great to reduce shock due to impact when landing on your feet and walking.
  6. Choose to buy shoes that are slightly firm in the mid-sole area.

Consider changing into shoes specialized for a particular use if you intend to walk for a prolonged period of time. Not only will you be looking after your feet better, but you can even take longer strides leading to a generally healthier lifestyle.