When it comes to heel pain, your shoes can be your most faithful ally—or your greatest enemy.
Most people need a little extra help to get through their day without heel pain. Although our ancestors may have walked barefoot or worn soft fabric shoes along forest floors and dirt pathways, the hard and unforgiving flat floors of today pose a greater challenge to modern feet. The right pair of shoes can help you with this challenge, offering the extra comfort and cushioning you need to stay on the go. The wrong pair, though? Disaster.
Below, read a few common characteristics of shoes that could cause heel pain.
- They don’t fit. Perhaps this is obvious, but considering how many people are out there walking in the wrong size shoes, it bears repeating. Shoes that don’t fit will pinch, pull, squeeze, and pressure your feet in many locations, frequently including the heel. If you find a pair of cute shoes that you totally love but they aren’t the right size … you have to let them go. Sorry. And while we’re at it, always measure your feet when shoe shopping. Many people (especially women) are prone to buying shoes that are too small even when the correct size is available.
- They don’t support you. High heel lovers who think they’re giving their feet a “break” by wearing ballet flats? We have some bad news for you. Unfortunately, most flats provide little-to-no cushioning for the heel or support for the arch. The same can be said for flip-flops, too. Look for pairs with good support, or stop by our office and get fitted for an appropriate orthotic device.
- There’s no “give” in the heel counter. You don’t want the back of your shoe to be totally floppy, of course—a firm heel counter helps keep the shoe in place and can even improve biomechanics. A rigid counter, however—like you’d find on pumps or skates—can cause bursitis pain at the back of the heel. Over time, it may even produce a bony bump called a Haglund’s deformity, or “pump bump.”
- They’re old and worn out. Maybe your comfy old pair of shoes used to be perfect for your feet, but unfortunately nothing lasts forever. Over time, soles and midsoles flatten out and lose their squishiness and springiness. As a result, the shoes no longer absorb as much of the impact force of each step, and your heels end up picking up the slack.