How Flat Shoes Can Damage Your Feet

Ballerina, flip flops and sandals – flat shoes are now combined with everything. Also because high heels have been discredited for their harmful effects on foot health. But what many do not know: Even flats, even sneakers, can be unhealthy. We spoke to an expert.

Basically, the problems cannot simply be generalized, since everyone has their own individual foot position and health requirements. “If you have good foot statics and also good foot muscles, you have fewer problems with flat shoes. However, many people have a misalignment. If the shoes do not offer a grip, the foot is overloaded, even with flat shoes, ”says Dr. Mathias Schettle, specialist in orthopedics and trauma surgery, from the Marianowicz Medical Center in Munich . He therefore advises to always consult an orthopedic surgeon if there is pain or damage to the posture.

Fact 1: infections are favored

Flat shoes, like ballerinas, are often slim and delicately cut. Not least to live up to its name. The problem: The toes are pressed tightly together, causing them to rub against each other and sweat extremely. So apart from painful blisters, there is also a risk of infection. It is therefore important to ensure that the whole foot can breathe well. Depending on the material, a lot of bacteria can collect in flip-flops. An investigation by the “University of Miami” has shown that over 18,000 bacteria can collect on the feet when wearing flip-flops. If the flip-flop wearer now has small or even large injuries on the feet, they can get into the wounds and, in the worst case, lead to nasty infections.

Fact 2: Toes can deform

Orthopedic surgeons have been warning about flip-flops as everyday footwear in the summer months for years. Because the shoes only hang on thin straps over the forefoot, the feet have to hold them when walking. The toes clench together. This can lead to misalignments in the long run. This was also noticed by Auburn University in Alabama . The gait of 39 subjects was analyzed for the study. As soon as the participants wore flip-flops, they tried to cling to the plastic sandals with their toes. In addition, the feet cannot roll normally when running. According to the researchers, the joints can be damaged due to the lack of cushioning in flat shoes. For example, knee pain can result in frequent flip-flop use.

Fact 3: Sneakers do not give a hold

Don’t worry, we’re not talking about high-tech fitness sneakers, which provide sufficient cushioning and a good footbed for optimal support and good support. What is meant are trendy sneakers (e.g. chucks or vans) with flat and extremely flexible rubber soles that do not provide support and are anything but healthy. Similar to ballerinas, they do not support the natural shape of the foot with extremely flat soles, the load is mainly shifted to the heel and not to the midfoot and ankle, which would be ideal.

Fact 4: Pain while running up to plantar fasciitis

Very flat shoes, such as B. ballerinas or lace-ups do not support the natural arch of the feet, which is why they have to work twice as much when walking. The lack of cushioning in flats can cause pain in the arch of the foot, inflammation of the periosteum in the shin and cracked heels. Long-term damage to posture is also the cause of flat, hard soles. From a certain age, the overload can lead to cracks and inflammation, such as plantar fasciitis. This is a disease of the tendon plate, which causes severe pain on the sole of the foot, especially on the heel. Dr. explains the cause Schettle as follows: “An inflamed tendon plate is usually the result of an overload. The skeletal structure of the feet is very complex. If, due to malpositions, some places are stressed too much

Fact 5: Flip flops cause back, hip and knee problems

Flip flops have a good reputation for convenience. The flat rubber shoes are more harmful to the human foot than almost any other shoe. When asked why, Dr. Schettle: “Just like ballerinas, the foot has no hold in flip-flops. The natural shape of the foot is not supported, which not only increases the risk of injury, for example due to bending on an uneven surface. If the wearer has a malposition, this is only promoted even more. In the long run, this is not only harmful to the feet, but also to the legs, hips and even the lower back. ”

For fans of flat shoes, the expert advises:

It depends on the height

A heel height of two centimeters should be the optimal prerequisite for a healthy shoe. Important: the paragraph should not exceed the magic limit of three centimeters. This creates a perfect weight distribution on the forefoot and hind foot.

Change shoes regularly

Dr. Schettle recommends changing shoes regularly – not only changing the height, but also the model. Ideally, the foot does not get used to a particular shoe and is therefore stressed in different ways every day. This can at least prevent misalignments with flat shoes.

Made-to-measure shoes

Sounds decadent, but not only is it healthier in the long run, it also pays off over the years: a pair of custom-made flat shoes. Admittedly the investment of around 2,000 euros (subsequent pairs are cheaper because the last only has to be made once) and more sounds steep at first. But: with a custom shoe you can determine every detail yourself and you get long-term, faithful companions for the feet that fit perfectly.


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