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Arthritis Health Center

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Flip-Flops, Flat Shoes Relieve Arthritic Knees

Clogs, Stability Shoes Put More Stress on Knees Than Flat, Flexible Shoes and Flip-Flops, Study Finds

Best Shoes for Knee Pain: Other Views

''This finding [about the best shoes for knee pain] came as absolutely a surprise to me," says Jeffrey A. Ross, DPM, MD, a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine, associate clinical professor of medicine, and chief of the diabetic foot clinic at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston.

"I would have expected the running shoe to be the best, but it didn't turn out to be," he says.

But Ross says he wishes the researchers had studied more than one type of athletic shoe. Even with the new study results, he says, "I probably would still suggest [people with knee arthritis] wear a low-heel running shoe with a flexible sole."

For people with knee arthritis, the shoe should bend easily, he says, resulting in less stress on the forefoot.

A ''neutral'' athletic shoe -- one that does not offer motion control or stability features, may also work to reduce load on the knee, he says.

Choosing footwear for people with knee arthritis can be a trial-and-error experience, says James Christina, DPM, director of scientific affairs for the American Podiatric Medical Association. "A lot of foot doctors would say a cushioned shoe, rather than a stability shoe or a rigid control category of shoe," he says.

Christina says the APMA does not have shoe guidelines for people with knee arthritis.

The new study is a valid one, he says, but the shoe that works for one person with knee arthritis may not work for another person.

The foot specialists say that flip-flops, although they didn't increase the forces on the knee, aren't the best shoe type, especially for older adults with knee arthritis. As balance declines, flip-flops can be hazardous and increase the risk of falling, they say.

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