When looking at the shoes people wear, we find out how many options and tendencies there are. But what is the best option for your feet, your posture and your health?

The famous high heels shorten the Achilles tendon, calf muscles, decrease the mobility of the foot and move the center of gravity forward, causing a problem in your lower back called “hollow back”. This can cause pain in your kneecaps and in the lower back. It is best to keep those high heels for special occasions only, or even better change them for flat shoes when you are at work.

Like high heels, dress shoes with a rigid sole and heel decrease the mobility of the ankle, weaken the intrinsic muscles of your feet and decrease your proprioception (balance reflex coming from your foot), which affects your walking biomechanics. So you are encouraged to also keep them for special occasions.

What about running shoes with nice big cushioning heels; aren’t they the best?  Wrong again! Because of the shape of the shoe, when you run your foot is too far forward which causes you to land directly on your heel and the resulting shock wave goes through the heel, knees and hips, and can cause injuries. We also find the same decrease in mobility of the ankles and feet found with previous types of shoes. When you look at high level racing, athletes run on the tip of their toes rather than on their heels. Therefore, these running shoes should not be worn and flat running shoes should be privileged.

The famous “flip-flops” or sandals are unfortunately also a bad choice because you have to tighten your big toe in order to keep the sandal in place.  This will result in a pronounced extension of your big toe which stresses your plantar fascia and muscles of your foot in addition to changing your walking biomechanics which in turn can lead to plantar fasciitis, heel spur, Achilles tendon irritation and ankle stiffness. All of that applies even if the sandals do not have heels.  If they do, the disadvantages are event more important.

What should we wear? Ideally, we should walk barefoot as much as possible to stimulate balance, proprioception and posture in addition to strengthening the foot and leg muscles. If you must wear a shoe, it should be flat, without heels, with a little sole to protect your feet from cuts that could arise from walking barefoot down the street. When this type of shoe cannot be worn, try to limit the amount of time you spend in high heels, dress shoes, or sandals.  They should be worn with moderation.