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The Worst Shoes for Your Feet

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

Spike Heels continued...

Spike heels also put an abnormal amount of pressure on the ball of the foot. "The fat under the ball of the foot starts to thin out from the pressure, and that’s the one place on your body that you want a nice chunk of fat," Shapiro says. "You can end up with something called metatarsalgia -- an acute pain in the ball of the foot that can become chronic -- or even stress fractures from all the pressure and hammer toes from the abnormal positioning."

It’s not just your feet that can pay the price. "If your feet hurt, you’ve lost your foundation," Anderson says. "So if you find yourself limping because your feet hurt, everything above the foot will be affected too. Your gait will be changed, and because of that, you’ll stress your knees, back, and hips. Everything above the foot has to adjust to what’s going on down below."

The solution: Wear your highest heels in moderation -- only for special events -- and slip them off on the way home. You can also relieve some of the pressure on the ball of your foot by wearing an over-the-counter or custom-made gel cushion. "Don’t combine sky-high heels with a pointy toe," Shapiro says. "Look for something that’s wide and roomy in the toe box."

Pointy-Toed Pumps

These beauties can cause some of the same injuries as high heels -- even more so when the shoe is both high and pointy.

"In addition to metatarsalgia and hammer toes, pointy-toed shoes can cause neuroma, an inflammation of the nerve between the toes," Shapiro says. "It’s most common between the third and fourth toes, but it could happen between any of them. The pinched and inflamed nerve causes pain and burning and may need to be treated with injections, physical therapy, or even surgical removal of the neuroma."

The solution: a wider toe box. There’s really nothing you can do to improve a shoe that squeezes your feet into an unnatural shape, Shapiro says. If you must wear them, as with sky-high heels, make it only on special occasions and not every day to the office.

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