By Brian Acton
Tight shoes might help you look stylish at the expense of being comfortable on your feet. But the human foot has a complex anatomy, and wearing shoes that are too tight can do a lot more damage than making you uncomfortable at a social gathering. When you pick a new pair of shoes, you should prioritize comfort and fit to avoid unintended side effects.
Here are six problems that can be caused by tight shoes.
- Foot Pain
Ill-fitting shoes have been prominently linked to foot pain, especially in the forefoot (the front area of the foot). The primary culprits are shoes with a reduced toe box volume; this means that the shoe tightly constricts the toes and doesn’t allow them enough room to move freely. This can lead to significant pain and discomfort, especially in the front of the foot.
- Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails occur when the edges of the toenail grow into the skin of your toe. They commonly occur in the big toe and can cause pain, swelling, and even infection. Footwear that tightly constricts the toes can cause this issue when the toenail has no room to grow naturally outward.
- Toe Deformities
Over time, cramming your feet into tight shoes can cause toe deformities as your toes actually start to react and/or adjust to their limited space. Frequent toe issues can include:
- Bunions: an enlarged bone or tissue around the base of the big toe. Over time, a bunion can cause the big toe to turn inward, leading to swelling and pain.
- Corns: a callus that develops on or between your toes.
- Hammertoes: when your toe starts to curl inside your shoe, with your toe raised instead of laying flat. This can cause discomfort and weaken your muscles.
Metatarsalgia is a common foot condition that involves inflammation and pain in the balls of the feet. The pain could be achy, sharp, or even a burning sensation. Poorly fitting or worn out shoes are one of the underlying causes of metatarsalgia.
- Foot Ulcers for Diabetics
Tight footwear is the leading cause of foot ulcers in patients who have diseases such as diabetes. Ulcers are open sores or wounds that can form when the shoes are constantly rubbing up against the feet. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, 85% of diabetes-related amputations are preceded by foot ulcers. These ulcers are preventable when wearing the right type of footwear.
- Soreness in Other Areas
If you are feeling pain or soreness in your legs, hips or lower back, this could be caused by tight shoes. When you have to adjust your gait and posture due to poorly fitting shoes, high heels, or their associated foot problems, your body’s alignment is thrown out of whack. Incorrect posture can lead to soreness and pain spreading to those other areas of your body.
Choose the Right Shoes
Choosing a shoe that fits properly is important. The right shoes will provide good support, give your foot and toes plenty of room, and fit comfortably. High heel shoes are notorious for causing foot problems, so you should try to limit the time spent in high heels. The better your shoes fit, the less chance you’ll have of developing issues with your feet.