We’ve all got a pair of shoes we love that also hurts too much to wear. Nevertheless, sometimes the need to look good outweighs the pair and we struggle on anyway. Needless to say, this is the perfect way to mess up your knees. If you were going to write a book called ‘how to mess up your knees in one easy step’, the only chapter would be ‘wear the wrong shoes’.
It’s amazing how something as simple as your choice of shoe can affect your joints. Bear in mind that your knees support the weight of your entire body with every single step you take. That’s why it’s important to look after your knees, and do everything you can to reduce the stress and strain they feel on a day to day basis. So whether you’re concerned because of your love for fashion, or because you’re a fervent runner and want to keep at it, there’s something here to consider for everyone.
How Your Shoes Affect Your Knees And What You Can Do About It
First, the main culprit, high heels. According to studies, walking in high heels can hugely increase the amount of stress on your knees and affect how the weight of your body is distributed by your legs. It also found that the higher the heel, the bigger the problem.
It turns out that, because of the unnatural angle created by high heels, it changes the position of your femur bone and prevents the knee from rotating as you walk. This all comes together to increase the stress placed on the knee joint, increasing the risk of problems as well as slowly contributing to joint issues and long term pain.
Trainers and other athletic shoes can also contribute to knee problems. We all know someone who loves to run, and we’ve probably heard about the host of problems that this has caused them, and their struggle to find a decent, supportive pair of shoes.
It really is that difficult. The wrong type of athletic shoe can hugely affect the amount of stability your foot gets, and when you’re performing athletic activities that place large amounts of strain on your feet and legs like CrossFit, having the wrong type of stability can lead to all the forces acting on your body being put on the wrong joints.
Sometimes it can even be as simple as not wearing a shoe with cleats when you’re twisting and darting around. This is why soccer players tend to have knee and leg problems.
So How Do We Fix This Problem?
The vast majority of knee problems caused by footwear are caused by a lack of, or incorrect, support.
When you’re looking for a pair of shoes that are good for the knees, there’s a simple checklist you can run down to make sure you’re buying the right thing.
You should be looking for:
Strong Arch Support
Arch problems affect so many people today, and bad arch support can force your knee to overcompensate and overstress itself, leading to pain. A lot of athletics stores are starting to have arch testing systems that can tell you what type of foot arch you have and the best type of footwear to compensate for it.
Well Cushioned Soles
The more cushioning your shoes have, the less shock gets transferred to your legs, and therefore your knees. This is especially important if you regularly walk on hard surfaces, like if you live or work in the city.
This is the bit that makes contact with the ground. Quite a few people with pronated feet or bad knees twist their feet whenever they walk, which can add to the strain being felt by the joints, especially the knee, which isn’t built to twist like this.
If you’ve got an old pair of shoes, go and check the soles. If one side of the sole is far more worn down than the other, it means that you’re twisting your feet as you walk and a solid sole is very important to you if you want to prevent or deal with knee pain.
Rigidity in your shoes translates to rigidity in your feet. When your feet aren’t moving the force travels up your leg to the next joint. That’s your knee. You want a complete range of movement whilst still retaining as much support as possible. A well-made shoe will flex easily, whereas one that doesn’t will constrict and pressure your feet.
What Are The Best Shoes To Wear For Knee Problems?
Unfortunately, there’s no one answer. Because every foot is different and every need is different. The single best thing you can do for your knees is go to a decent shoe store and ask the staff for help. They’ll be able to assess your feet and tell you exactly what your needs are based on your specific foot type.
If you can’t do that, or even if you are getting professional shoe help, remember to follow our checklist and you’ll be far more likely to get a pair of shoes that’s good for your feet and provides all the support and flexibility you need to fight and prevent knee pain.
Some specialty shoes that may be right for you:
- Best Winter work boots buying guide
- Best Crossfit Shoes Reviews: Adaptable Shoes For Intense Workouts
The Bottom Line
On the upside, you now know how to mess up your knees, and exactly what you can do to stop this from happening! Have you had knee pain in the past? What did you do to treat it, or stop it from coming back? Or maybe you run and have some super-secret tips for keeping your knees strong and healthy. Whatever it is, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.