We all know the feeling: You walk out the door for a day on the go, only to find 20 minutes later that your choice of footwear just isn’t going to cut it in the comfort department. Unfortunately, the pain and blisters aren’t the only downsides to wearing uncomfortable shoes—there’s the chance they could cause more long-lasting damage to your feet. To help you prevent this, we reached out to an expert to find out which shoes are the worst for foot health.
Frankly, we expected high heels to top the list, but podiatrist Robert Khorramian, MD provided a surprising response to our question. The worst offender? Ballet flats. Dr. Khorramian pointed out that with women’s busy schedules, unstructured flats don’t offer enough support. He noted that walking for long periods of time in ballet flats “causes metatarsalgia neuroma and plantar fasciitis,” and also “destroys the fatty tissue underneath the feet,” resulting in the ever so dreaded corns and calluses.
While Dr. Khorramian named ballet flats as the most common shoes to cause foot-related issues, he explained that other unsupportive or painful styles are also worth avoiding. “Flip-flops can cause a lot of injuries,” he stated. “Pointy shoes can also cause corns and blisters because of the lack of circulation to the toes.”
Some of the most unsupportive shoes for your feet include classic ballet flats, flip-flops, pointed shoes, and precarious heels. So what are the best ways to protect your feet? “Always buy shoes that are cushiony underneath the soles of the feet and have enough toe room,” said Khorramian. And if you are planning to wear shoes with little support or high heels, he recommends carrying a larger bag where you can easily swap to comfortable shoes. “If you must wear heels, avoid wearing them while you’re driving, for long periods of time, and while walking.”
Shop our picks for the most supportive, stylish shoes below!