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The worst and best shoes for your feet

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

What's not to love about shoes? From sky-high stilettos, to fancy flip-flops, there are so many styles to choose from, and you don't need to diet to get into a pair.

Sure, at the bottom of plenty of wardrobes are a few spur of the moment purchases - the designer pair that were just too much of a bargain not to snap up, even though they were a tad tight.

Footwear is fun and fashionable but some styles can cause real damage to your feet and they may not be the obvious culprits. It's not only your sale bin beauties that cause the pain.

We spoke to Mike O'Neil, consultant podiatrist and spokesperson for the College of Podiatry. He has seen at first-hand the results of the wrong shoes.

So what's his golden rule?

"Shoes that are not fit for function are the worst type of shoes. You need the right shoes for the right job," says Mike.


As soon as there's a glimmer of sun, around Easter time, some women dig out their flip-flops and wear them all summer until the clocks go back.

Bad move for feet. "Flip-flops are fine around the pool but if you wear them all day every day you'll get problems," advises Mike. "They are not supportive and your feet tend to collapse in and you end up literally dragging your feet along."

Flip-flops are particularly unsuitable if you are overweight as they can't provide anywhere near enough support for your frame if you wear them for long periods. They can cause pain in the arches and provide no protection for most of the top of your foot.

"They can lead to plantar fasciitis and Achilles pain," warns Mike. "Not to mention the inevitable cuts, grazes and even breaks [broken bones] that people, especially kids, get when they wear them wet and slippery for activities like scrambling over rocks."

It's not advisable to drive wearing flip flops as your foot can slip off the pedal and you may experience more than just foot pain in the worst case.

So keep the flip-flops for wearing in short bursts by the beach or swimming pool when you don't have to do any serious walking.

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