Are your summer shoes hurting your feet?

July 11, 2018

When it comes to shoes, women always want to put their best foot forward. But, this summer that could mean thinking twice about styles that cause painful conditions. Dr. Kamran Hamid, a foot and ankle surgeon at Midwest Orthopeadics at Rush sees many women with problems caused or exacerbated by improper shoes.   


These are synonymous with summer, but in 2014 alone, flip-flops caused over 25,000 emergency room visits! They can also cause things like hammertoes because they force your toes to curl while you walk. In fact, a 2008 study from Auburn University found that when people walk in flip-flops, they alter their gait, which can result in problems and pain from the foot up into the hips and lower back.

High heels

Stilettos are an example of bad footwear because wearing heels that are at least two inches high five or more days a week can shrink a woman's calf muscle fibers by an average of 13 percent. They can also painfully thicken her Achilles tendon by 22 percent, according to the Journal of Experimental Biology.


With NO arch support, this popular style is also unhealthy for your feet. Wearing flats for an extended period can lead to plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and neuromas in those with flat feet.


These are a great casual choice of shoe, but if they’re too worn out, lack of shock absorption can lead to shin splints and runner’s knee. And if the sneakers are too flexible, your heel is left unsupported, which can lead to twists and sprains.  

And, here are some styles that Dr. Hamid recommends:

  1. Sandals—with a contoured footbed and arch support, like Birkenstocks, Tevas or Merrells, come in a variety of styles and are a great alternative to plastic flip-flops.
  2. Heels—with a front platform give you height that you want with heels and an illusion of longer legs. These create less stress on your toes and ball of your foot because the front platform reduces the angle.
  3. Supported flats—Trade in your ballet flats for a shoe that supports your arch. Espadrilles, especially those with a wedge heel and cork sole for shock absorption, is a smart swap for your favorite summer heels. Be sure to look for a shoe with a rounded toe box to decrease pressure and prevent bunions.  
  4. Running shoes—Buy new running shoes every 500 miles and look for ones with good tread, as they provide traction and support. It's important to buy running shoes that accommodate you; here are some questions to ask yourself. What type of arch do you have (low, normal or high)? What's your terrain (trails vs treadmill)? And do you need the extra stability or cushioning that comes with a gel shoe?

Dr. Kamran S. Hamid has a special interest in ankle replacement surgery, foot deformity correction, sports injuries, and arthritis and trauma of the foot and ankle. He earned his medical degree from the Texas A&M College of Medicine. Dr. Hamid went on to complete his Master of Public Health degree in Quantitative Methods at the Harvard School of Public Health. He completed his fellowship in orthopedic foot and ankle surgery at Duke University School of Medicine.