Wearing improper footwear can cause the foot and toes to be compressed and bent in ways that can be painful and, over time, can turn into deformities like bunions and hammertoes. Common foot conditions caused by improper footwear include:
- Ingrown Toenails – when a toenail grows into the soft flesh surrounding the nail, causing pain, redness, and swelling.
- Bunions – when the big toe is pushed against your second toe, often by narrow pointed shoes, causing a bony bump to form on the joint at the base of your big toe.
- Tailor’s Bunions – when the little toe is pressed against your fourth toe, often by narrow pointed shoes, causing a bony bump to form on the joint at the base of your little toe.
- Hammertoes and Mallet Toes – abnormal bends in the joints of the toes (causing a permanently curled look), caused by wearing high heels or other shoes where the toes are forced against the front of the shoe.
To avoid these issues, here’s what you need to know:
- Know your foot shape – choose a shoe not only the right size, but the right shape for your foot. A shoe with a rectangular toe box will fit most feet better than a triangular toe box. Avoid cramming your feet into a shoe that doesn’t fit comfortably.
- Know your arches – if you have feet with high arches or flat feet, your feet will have a tendency to roll in or out, which can cause ankle pain. Look for shoes with stabilizers to keep your feet from rolling and consider orthotics to support your arches to avoid arch pain.
- Know your activities – different activities (like walking vs running) require different types of foot support. Select your shoes based on what activities you plan to engage in while wearing them.
- Know your age – as we age, the fat padding on the bottoms of our feet tends to thin out, leaving less natural support for our feet. This is why going barefoot or wearing thin soled shoes may not be as comfortable as it once was.
If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain, consider consulting a specialist to discover the cause of your pain and what you can do to correct it.
Dr. Jessica Rutstein is a podiatrist with The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group. She treats patients aged 2 years and older for conditions of the foot and toes. She has a special interest in the conservative treatment of foot problems including bunions, hammertoes, warts, and heel and arch pain. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rutstein, please call 210.281.9595 or request an appointment online.