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Heels, flats, flip-flops -- some of the trendiest shoes can be the riskiest.


Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

WebMD Feature

The Worst Shoes for Your Feet

Every woman probably has at least one pair: those shoes that you absolutely adore. Some perhaps have dozens.

The problem is your feet may not love those shoes.

Whether they’re skyscraper stilettos, open-backed clogs, pointy-toed pumps, or just ballet flats with no arch support, problem shoes can cause everything from nerve damage to hammertoe to calluses.

Worst Shoe Offender: Flip-Flops

You might be surprised at the winner of the Worst Shoe trophy. According to podiatrist Andrew Shapiro, DPM, a spokesman for the American Podiatric Medical Association, it’s also likely the most popular.

"Women are wearing flip-flops as everyday shoes!" says Shapiro, who practices in Valley Stream, N.Y. "They’re meant for the beach and the pool, not for everyday walking. They don’t give you any arch support. And they don’t protect the foot at all, so it’s prone to injuries."

Flip-flops might be fine if you don't overdo it, John Anderson, MD, co-chair of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society’s Public Education Committee, says.

"But a lot of people get caught up in the moment and try to do things flip-flops aren’t designed for: running for a train, jumping, or playing Frisbee or touch football in the backyard," Anderson says. "We see a lot of injuries from improper use of flip-flops, and Crocs as well.”

The woes of improperly worn flip-flops? Shapiro says the list includes scraped feet, strained ankles, and broken toes from falling right out of the shoe as well as chronic problems such as tendonitis and plantar fasciitis due to lack of support.

The solution: Unless you’re on the beach, wear real sandals, not flip-flops -- the kind with a strap in the back that at least holds your foot inside the shoe.

Spike Heels

It’s pretty obvious that the higher the heel, the more misaligned your foot is. So how high is too high?

"Anything higher than about two inches causes a problem," Shapiro says. "The Achilles tendon shortens when the foot is in a high heel. So if you wear them too much, that tendon can become chronically shortened and you have Achilles tendonitis."

Brush Up on Beauty

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