The 5 worst shoes for your feet that *aren’t* high heels, according to a podiatrist


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Photo: Stocksy/Lyuba Burakova

I used to wear heels almost every day, until things like bills and meal prep and burnout became my real life. And while I’ve always known that heels are among the worst shoes for your feet (something to save for very special occasions), apparently there are a few less obvious choices that podiatrists don’t recommend either.

For the sake of your feet, Miguel Cunha, DPM, founder of Gotham Footcare, would like you to stay away from five specific shoe styles. What better way to usher in Sad Girl Fall (is that what we’re calling it?) than with a list of things you can’t have? It’s a mood.

The worst shoes for your feet, according to a foot doctor

1. Slides

Dr. Cunha says to avoid slide shoes that are completely flat, because they don’t give your feet any support and can lead to “pronation and collapse of the arch”—which can lead to other bad things like shin splints, knee pain, and back pain. If you do wear a slide, he recommends choosing one with a wedge that’s 3/4-inch tall because it will place less tension on your Achilles heel.

2. Sock sneakers

TBH I am not mad to see sock sneakers make this list, because I am not a fan. Basically, sock sneakers may feel super comfy but, according to Dr. Cunha, “they are not advisable shoes because they provide no support to the top and outside of your foot which can easily lead to an ankle sprain.”

3. Slingback flats

“This shoe is an upgrade from a slide shoe only because it has a sling back that adds some support to the ankle,” Dr. Cunha says. “Shoes with ankle straps help support the shoe on the foot and eliminates the need for your toes to hang onto the shoe thus reducing the development of hammertoes.” Sounds good, right? Wrong. While marginally better than a slide, slingback flats are also, well, flat which can lead to the same arch issues.

4. Western cowboy boots

“This is not the natural shape of the foot so the big toe is going to exacerbate a bunion, cause hammertoes and irritate neuromas,” Dr. Cunha says. You may be thinking, How can I keep my Free People-catalogue aesthetic without my cowboy boots? (No? Just me?) Dr. Cunha says to choose a pair of cowboy boots with a square or wide toe box.

5. Ankle boots with stilettos

“The higher the heel, the shorter strides, which means more pressure is placed on the balls of your feet. This throws off your center of gravity putting unneeded and unnecessary stress on your knees and lower back,” according to Dr. Cunha. (You can also file this under “advice I plan to ignore even though I know I shouldn’t,” a frequent theme of my life.) Ankle boots with chunky heels are fine, though, so long as they aren’t over 1.5 inches.

Apparently we’ve been shopping for shoes all wrong—here are tips from two podiatrists on how to do it right. Then, an expert says these are the best shoes for standing all day

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