While your feet transport you from place to place all throughout the day, it’s your shoes that protect your feet, so it’s no surprise that shoes have been around a long time. In fact, the oldest preserved footwear is a leather shoe dating back to 3500BC.
Shoes protect your feet from cuts, bug bites, extreme temperatures, and burns. Unfortunately, ill-fitting shoes can actually do more harm than good. Shoes that don’t fit properly can contribute to many conditions ranging from ingrown toenails to hammertoes. Dr. Sean Rosenblum and our team at Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic explain how ill-fitting shoes can affect your feet and what we can do to help you.
1. Ingrown nails
Ingrown toenails occur when your toenail actually grows into the skin that surrounds your nail bed. This can happen if you cut your nails too short or too rounded or if your shoes are too tight. If your shoes are tight, your nail doesn’t have any room, and it’s forced into the skin around your nails. This causes inflammation, swelling, and tenderness.
To avoid ingrown nails, trim your nails straight across with toenail clippers. Replace any shoes that make your toes feel “jammed.”
Perhaps the most common foot ailment, blisters are caused by friction and can occur in nearly every type of shoe, including new sneakers that are not yet broken in, flats, slides (especially when worn without stockings), and even certain types of sandals.
To reduce the risk of blisters:
Wear the right-size shoe
Wear moisture-wicking socks or stockings
Break in new shoes before wearing them for the day
Tip: Because blisters can get infected, it’s important to clean and bandage blisters immediately. If you have diabetes, don’t hesitate to give Dr. Rosenblum a call to prevent foot-related complications of diabetes.
3. Heel pain
If your feet hurt first thing in the morning — even your first steps — plantar fasciitis may be to blame. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by the inflammation of your plantar fascia. It can be triggered by flat feet or by a sudden increase in your activity, such as training for a marathon.
Surprisingly, heel pain can be exacerbated by wearing poorly fitting shoes. If you have flat feet, Dr. Rosenblum may suggest a few lifestyle changes like slowly building up your physical activity levels. You may also benefit from custom orthotics.
A bunion looks like a bump at the base of your big toe, but it’s actually your joint jutting outward. When the big toe is pressed too much — like being crammed into a pair of narrow stilettos — pressure is placed on the joint, and it becomes red and tender.
Bunions can develop from conditions like arthritis, but narrow shoes make the symptoms worse. If you already have bunions, avoid narrow or pointy shoes. Wearing appropriate footwear with a low heel is one of the best things you can do to manage mild bunions.
5. Athlete’s foot
While athlete’s foot is most often contracted by a lack of shoes (like not wearing shower shoes in the locker room), it’s possible to develop athlete's foot by wearing the wrong shoes. If your shoes are too tight, your feet can’t breathe. This is especially relevant with your gym shoes since you’re more likely to sweat while wearing them.
Tip: Always ensure your workout shoes fit properly and allow them to fully air dry between your workouts.
Hammertoe is a condition that affects the joints in your second, third, fourth, and fifth toes. Hammertoes causes the joints to bend abnormally, so your toes might curl up rather than lay flat on the ground. To give your toes the space they need, you’ll need shoes with a wide toe box. This means that narrow or pointy shoes can make hammertoes even more uncomfortable.
Anytime that your feet hurt, it’s a good idea to listen to your body. Sometimes it means forgoing the fashionable-but-unsupportive pair of shoes and choosing a more accommodating pair instead.
At Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic, we’re happy to provide the comprehensive foot care you need so you can walk without foot pain. Request an appointment at our office in Lodi, New Jersey, by calling 973-218-5720 or using our convenient online booking tool.