The shoe may fit, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Most of us know that high heels can wreak havoc on the body, pulling weight onto the balls of the feet. The dynamics can mess with everything from the nerves in the foot to the alignment of the spine, causing long-term damage that’s anything but sexy.
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But there are plenty of other trendy styles that could be harmful, says Marion Parke, a foot surgeon turned shoe designer whose fashionable, functional range — including stilettos — offer shock absorption and contoured insoles. “Professionals in the footwear industry haven’t done a very good job of educating the public on what makes a shoe a good shoe,” she tells The Post.
Your best bet is to look for a shoe that doesn’t fold in half through the arch and can’t be wrung out like a towel. A good shoe only bends across the widest part of the toe box, she says.
“If you go to your closet and test all of your shoes, you’ll be surprised by how many shoes fail this simple test,” says Parke.
Experts such as Parke say it’s not necessary to throw out all your shoes that don’t pass — just limit wearing them to a couple of hours a day. And, in between those times, help your feet recover with some supportive running or walking shoes.
Here, top foot experts weigh in on the trendiest kicks of the summer — and how to minimize damage while still looking stylish.
Mules are easy to slip on and off your feet. And that’s the problem: “With any type of slide that doesn’t have a back, your toes over-grip in order to keep that shoe from flying off your foot,” says Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, a Midtown-based doctor of podiatric medicine and surgery. “You’re overusing those muscles that are not intended to be used.”
Sutera says wearing clogs or mules for long walks, especially multiple days in a row, could lead to issues such as stress fractures and tendinitis.
Make the style work by finding a version with a strap around the back of the heel so that it stays put. Or, if a wooden-soled shoe is uncomfortable, opt for something softer, Parke says.
All flats lack proper support, but flip-flops are especially bad, says Dr. Miguel Cunha, podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare in Midtown. “The sole is completely flat and forces your foot to pronate [or roll inward] for a longer period of time.”
Without support on the heel, the toes are forced to flex so they can grip the shoe. “That repetitive contracture is what’s going to cause things like hammertoe,” Cunha says. He recommends a slip-on sandal with substantial arch support, such as classic Adidas slides, where the top strap better secures the foot to the shoe. These are slightly better than flip-flops, although they still shouldn’t be worn for long walks, Cunha says.
And if there’s one style that could make any podiatrist squirm, it’s the high-heeled flip-flop that’s appeared on runways recently — a double affront to foot health, says Dr. Hillary Brenner, a podiatric surgeon in the Financial District. “It’s a stiletto heel putting all the pressure on a flip-flop, which has no support to begin with. It’s not a stable shoe,” she says.
Spotted on the likes of Rihanna and Bella Hadid, stretchy booties are becoming famous: In “I Like It,” Cardi B raps, “I like those Balenciagas, the ones that look like socks.” But with their flimsy, socklike shaft and constricting pointed toe, the chic style throws off the body’s natural alignment, experts say.
Even though the sock part can add some supportive compression, the same dangers remain as with any other heel: “You’re not walking on a wide surface area, which throws off your center of gravity,” Brenner says. The ensuing lack of alignment can lead to everything from “arthritis to slipped disks to muscle tears,” she adds.
If you must suffer for fashion, make sure the shoe fits snugly since instability can lead to spraining. “The key here is to try it on and make sure you don’t feel slippage in the front part of the boot,” Parke says. “When it comes to shoe fit, slippage is one of the biggest things to avoid.”
Street-style stars love pairing these clunky classics with flirty summer outfits. Sure, they may be more supportive than your average flat or heel, but there’s another issue: They’re usually very heavy, “which makes the foot’s muscles work harder just to support them,” Brenner says. “This can lead to strain and sprains.” Instead, opt for styles made with lighter soles or leather-free materials.
Compounding the problem is that fans of the style covet a worn-in look. But, “old shoes can be really damaging to your feet and skeletal system,” Sutera says, due to reduced shock absorption. She recommends replacing heavily worn shoes after three years.
Platform sandals and sneakers might look cool, but “they don’t have the technology incorporated for long periods of standing and walking,” says Sutera.
Platforms don’t bend as much across the toe box the way running shoes do, which is problematic: Your gait changes. “You’re not getting that flexibility in the joints of your feet,” says Sutera. “You’re recruiting your leg muscles to work harder, or forcing your knees to bend in [an unnatural] way … That can lead to soreness, tendinitis, back spasms and bursitis [inflammed areas near joints].”
If you’re hellbent on trying the look, steer clear of “flatforms” — styles that are the same height across the whole foot. “You have less likelihood to sprain your ankle in platforms if there’s actually a slight declination to the forefoot,” says Cunha.
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