According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, foot problems resulting from poorly fitting shoes are a major health risk among women. Nearly 90 percent of women wear shoes that are too small for their feet. In fact, women are at least nine times more likely than men to develop foot problems from improper shoe wear.
Many of the foot deformities that women develop are caused by wearing narrow, high-heeled shoes. To avoid painful foot conditions like bunions and hammertoes, it is important to invest in shoes that blend fashion and comfort. Limiting the amount of time spent in heels can help prevent foot problems.
What to look for in women's shoes
High-heeled, narrow, and pointy-toed shoes can cause serious discomfort. These types of shoes result in an uneven weight distribution, placing too much pressure on the forefoot and leading to muscle imbalance and posture problems. To avoid painful foot conditions like bunions and hammertoes, women can try the following:
- Alternate high-heeled shoes with flats during the course of the day.
- Avoid inflexible, stiff shoes.
- Buy heels with varying heights.
- Focus on comfort; keep shopping until you find a shoe that looks AND feels good.
- Have both feet measured while you are standing, if one foot is larger than the other, buy shoes that fit the bigger foot.
- Make sure shoes do not pinch your toes.
- Match your shoes to your activity. For example, if you will be walking a long distance to work, bring a comfortable pair of shoes for the trek.
- Never purchase shoes without trying them on.
Issues created by improper fit
Selecting shoes that fit properly is the first step toward eliminating foot pain. Studies show that in nine out of ten cases, women's foot deformities can be attributed to wearing shoes that are too tight.
Part of the problem is in the design of women's shoes. Overall, there is a lack of availability of wide sizes and toe boxes are becoming narrower every year. High-heeled shoes and shoes that are too narrow can cause numerous orthopedic problems. Some of the most common foot conditions that result from the unnatural shape of women's shoes are:
- Arch pain.
- Heel pain.
- Knee pain.
- Morton's neuroma.
For women to relieve the pain associated with inappropriate footwear, they must prioritize comfort, and avoid shoes that do not fit properly. Many women will have a hard time avoiding high heels completely, so part of the compromise can include alternating high-heeled shoes with flats and bringing comfortable shoes to wear in the workplace.
If you suffer from any foot conditions caused by improper footwear, visit your doctor for treatment.