women sitting on the ground holding her footHave you ever purchased a shoe that caused foot pain? You're not alone. While problems with high heels and stilettos have been all over the internet, there are many other women's shoes that can put your feet in jeopardy. Different shoes can cause different kinds of foot pain. Learn about the culprits and the solutions you can use to prevent painful foot problems.

Tight Shoes, Short Shoes, and Narrow Toed Shoes

Tight or short shoes can cause your feet to hurt. But they can also increase your risk for ingrown toenails and fungal toenails. When the toenail is pushed against the front of the shoe, hiking boot, or ski boot it can become ingrown. Shoes that are too tight or too short can cause damage to the nail plate, making it easier for fungus to set up shop. Narrow toed shoes can lead to Morton's neuroma, bunions, and hammertoes.


  • Get your feet measured every time you shop for shoes. It's very common for adults to experience an increase in shoe size.

  • Buy shoes that give you enough wiggle room in the toe box.

Flat Shoes

In the last several years, ballet flats and other flat shoes have been all the rage. Many people have gotten the message that heels are bad, so they've flocked to shoes at the opposite end of the spectrum. But very flat shoes can be almost as bad as heels, particular for people with flat feet. They can increase your risk for plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. When walking or engaging in other activities such as dancing or running the arch flattens out causing the plantar fascia to stretch beyond its limits causing micro tears, inflammation, and pain.


  • Avoid flat shoes if you have flat feet, low arches, or any other foot problems.

  • Buy flat shoes that have some arch support such as the Rockport Cobb Hill Mary Jane Flat.

Flip Flops

Flat flip flops with no arch support can lead to a myriad of foot problems for women. Flip flops were only meant to be worn at the beach, swimming pool, and locker and shower room. Unfortunately flip flops have become extremely popular and women wear them for long walks and for other activities that require a much more supportive shoe. The constant gripping at the toes to keep the shoe on, the flatness and lack of support, and absence of protection make flip flops problematic for women to wear off the beach. They can cause blisters, hammertoes, Achilles tendonitis, neuromas, heel pain, and worsen bunions. Their dearth of support can also lead to sprained ankles.


  • Choose a flip flop with great support such as a Vionic sandal.

  • Even better, buy a water sandal which has foot support and straps.

Flexible Shoes

Flexible tennis shoes and other shoes like them certainly look comfortable. But looks can be deceiving. Flexible shoes are fine if you're walking no further than your mailbox or going food shopping. But a walk or run around Green Lake is a non-starter as flexible shoes offer no support; they can easily bend in half and be twisted from side to side. Women who've had problems with their feet in the past or have flat feet or high arches should not wear these types of shoes. I've had many patients come in with heel pain who were wearing them.


Pumps or Rigid Back Shoes

Pumps can be problematic for women who develop a bony enlargement called Haglund's deformity or so called "pump bump", due the location of the deformity and the rigidness of pumps. Any shoe with a rigid back can cause problems for anyone with this type of foot problem.


  • Avoid stiff backed shoes; instead look for shoes with a soft back such as a Munro Traveler.

  • Use heel lifts and heel pads can help with the irritation.

  • Get custom orthotics from a podiatrist to control the foot motion and change how the foot sits in the shoe.

Flatform Shoes

Flatform shoes are half platform shoes, half flats--supposedly the look of high heels with the comfort of flats. They sound good, in theory. However, flatforms are inflexible so your foot can’t do what it was intended to do which is flex when you walk. This makes them very unstable. When you can’t walk properly you’re more likely to fall and end up with an ankle sprain or fracture.


You can still buy a shoe with a platform as long as your foot rolls forward properly. Fortunately there are now rocker shoes beyond the Hoka sports shoe that can meet that need. A good example is the Jafa's Women Sandal.

High Heels and Stilettos

You might still wonder, what's so bad about high heels and stilettos? While some women can get away with wearing these types of shoes infrequently, daily wear can increase your risk for ball of foot pain including bunions, neuromas, and hammertoes. When wearing high heels your weight is placed primarily on the ball of the foot which places a lot of stress on the metatarsals, the toes, and the nerves. Constant high heel wear can also shorten your calf muscles putting you at greater risk for plantar fasciitis.


  • Limit your high heel wear by walking to work in lower heeled shoes.

  • Carry lower heels shoes with you so you can switch if you need to.

  • Wear heels that are one inch or lower

  • Wear heels with a rounded toe box to prevent added pressure on your toes

Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

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