Find out which styles can help ease your arthritis foot pain and which ones to avoid. Our feet, with their 52 bones, 66 joints and more than 200 arthritis shoes, tendons and ligaments, are high-precision instruments that connect us to the earth, support our skeleton and provide balance and mobility.
Anyone who has worn a fabulous pair of shoes for a special occasion, only to tear them off at the first possible moment, knows how painful a bad shoe decision can be. That’s especially true when choosing shoes for arthritic feet. Making healthy choices for your feet, much like eating a nutritious diet or getting regular exercise, can add up to big improvements in quality of life, says Marian Hannan, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-director of musculoskeletal research at the Harvard-affiliated Institute for Aging in Boston. People should start thinking of their shoes as a factor they can modify to help minimize pain and maximize their ability to get out and do things. The wrong shoe worn by someone with arthritis in their hips, knees, ankles or feet can exacerbate existing problems and, down the road, cause damage and complications to many joints beyond the feet, she adds. It includes video demonstrations of the author in action.
To help keep you on your feet comfortably, we teamed up with medical experts who weigh in on the pleasing and painful points of 10 different types of shoes, and with Kirsten, who recommends her top picks in each category. Experts are united in their low opinion of high heels, defined as heels higher than 2 inches. High heels are bad for everyone’s feet, and for people with any kind of arthritis, they’re even worse. Bryan West, a podiatric surgeon who practices in Livonia, Mich. Studies show wearing stilettos and other heels contributes to both foot pain and arthritis. Researchers at Iowa State University in Ames measured forces on the knee in women wearing flats and wearing 2-inch and 3.
Women who made a habit of wearing high heels had an increased risk of knee joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis, or OA. 2010 annual meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics. Hannan found that women with a history of wearing high heels also experienced more foot pain later in life than those who opted for healthier shoes. These can produce the same problems as higher heels, just to a lesser degree. Add a pointy toe and you can have even more discomfort. Carol Frey, MD, clinical assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at University of California, Los Angeles. Remember, if a shoe hurts, it’s damaging your foot.
If you want to wear low heels, experts recommend those with rubber soles, wedge heels and roomy toe boxes. These styles are more slip-proof, and the greater surface area of the sole helps absorb shock, adds stability and reduces stress on pressure points. Experts say these shoes, which are not particularly stable and can increase falling risk, are best for people who do not have problems with their feet or with balance. Najia Shakoor, MD, a rheumatologist and associate professor of medicine at Rush University. Other studies have shown being barefoot is good for knee load, and we found flip-flops reduce knee load by about the same percentage.