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These Are The 4 Worst Shoes For Your Feet

worst shoes for your feet

Shoes play a very important role in our lives, and not only as an all-important fashion accessory! The shoes we wear can affect our feet, posture, and even blood circulation, which in turn can impact our overall health.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about the best brands for comfortable shoes based on input I had gotten from readers. And while today’s post is also about shoes, today we’ll be focusing on the opposite end of the shoe spectrum.

Because the truth is that some shoes are just plain bad for your feet! Wearing the wrong pair of shoes over an extended time period can lead to lasting injuries, and not even the cutest pair is worth that kind of suffering!

So today I’ll be sharing a list of 4 of the worst offenders when it comes to potentially harmful footwear. And for each shoe listed below, I’ve also included recommendations for minimizing or avoiding harm in case you just can’t give them up!

The 4 Worst Shoes For Your Feet

worst shoes for your feet

1. Stilettos Over 2 Inches

It’s no surprise that stiletto heels are near the top of every “worst shoes for your feet” list. The height of the heel forces your weight onto the balls of your feet, which can lead to pinched nerves and shortened tendons.

Over time, shortened tendons can make it painful to wear non-heeled shoes. And since many high-heeled shoes can be pretty painful to wear to begin with, that’s definitely not a cycle you want to get stuck in!

worst shoes for your feet

Do This Instead: If you can’t give up your towering stilettos, stick to wearing them on date nights and special occasions. Doctors recommend limiting your time in tall stilettos to 2-3 hours, so an evening out would fit the bill nicely.

You can also do foot stretches and exercises regularly to help keep your feet healthy. (Tracing the alphabet with each foot is an easy option!)

worst shoes for your feet

2. Ballet Flats

It shouldn’t be too surprising that tall stilettos can be bad for your feet, but I didn’t anticipate that ballet flats can pose problems too! But ballet flats offer very little arch support, which puts a lot of pressure on your heel.

Over time, that added pressure can lead to plantar fasciitis, a painful condition caused by inflammation of the tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot.

worst shoes for your feet

Do This Instead: Put supportive inserts in your flats, which will help ensure that pressure is distributed more evenly across the bottom of your foot.

worst shoes for your feet

3. Flip Flops & Slides

Much like ballet flats, lack of support is also an issue with flip flops and slide sandals. Wearing them too often can not only lead to plantar fasciitis, but hip, knee, or even back problems too!

Another issue with flip flops and slides is lack of protection. They leave your feet exposed to potential splinters, cuts, scrapes, and more!

worst shoes for your feet

Do This Instead: Love flip flops? Try a toning flip flop designed for walking. They typically have a thicker sole and more arch support than standard flip flops.

You may also consider choosing a Birkenstock sandal. Their cork footbeds are firm and supportive, plus they offer better protection than most sandals.

worst shoes for your feet

4. Mules

Heeled mules are my favorite style of shoe! But as much as it pains me to admit it, they aren’t doing our feet any favors!

While heels aren’t great to begin with, heels that don’t support the back of your feet are even worse! When you walk in them, you have to curl your toes to keep the shoes on your feet, which can lead to sprains, hammertoes, and bunions.

worst shoes for your feet

Do This Instead: Try a slingback instead! You can still have the heel, but you’ll have more support from the strap, which means no more toe-curling to keep your shoes from flying off!

Have you experienced foot issues because of a painful pair of shoes?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • CROCS! Love the Classic & Beach, which are quite similar. After a few chemo sessions, I went as a spouse to my husband’s convention in Las Vegas. He wanted me to wear “real” shoes that evening, so I wore flats. By the time we returned to hotel, I was BAREFOOT and I NEVER do that! Put on my Crocs, walked around in our room for about 5 minutes & CURED my foot problems! They do not fit everyone’s feet, but the insole bumps & arch support are vital to caring for my neuropathy. I have MANY, different colors & some different styles. Have worn some out, over time! Unless the snow is over my feet, I wear them in the winter, too. Just bought a new “closed” pair, so ready for next winter or whatever this spring brings!!! There has to be a real REASON not to wear my Crocs (formal banquet when I have to walk across stage, etc.), because almost anything I do I wear Crocs. (Old / smart enough to wear comfortable shoes!)

  • I have flip flops made by Fitflop that are great for my plantar fasciitis.I try to put them on first thing in the morning ( when most people with the disorder have the most trouble) and if I wear them, I don’t have pain in my heels. They were about $35 Canadian and worth every penny!

  • I’d just like to find shoes in my size. I wear a size 3 with some and a size 5 with others. It’s a nightmare for me to even find a decent pair. I wear sketchers for my tennis shoes and they are so comfortable and the only size that fits me. But then again I also have trouble finding anything that fits me. I’m short and small.

  • I’ve been wearing Cobian flip flops. I bought them at BB&B so getting 20% off helped. Thick sole with support. Around $30. But seeing all the great recommendations in these comments, I plan to check out all of them! Thanks, everyone!!

  • I have the worst problems with shoes and have my entire adult life. They hurt my back, not my feet!
    Thanks for the post. I’ll be checking out some new sources.
    Wearing heels at my son’s wedding almost killed my back. I finally took them off!

  • Yes! The Vionic flip flops are a great example of the “toning flip flop” that I mention as an alternative to cheap flip flops, since they do have arch support :-)

  • Has anyone tried the Rothy’s or Tieks? I can’t wear heels at all but would love to have stylish flats. I love the idea of the Rothy’s brand but know no one who has them. My vet is a female and I asked if her flats were Rothy’s but she said no, but a lot of her female vet friends wear them as they can be washed in the wash machine. I like the Tieks but am not a fan of the teal soles and stripe up the back of the heel no matter what color the shoe is. I can get past it if the shoes are worth the price though.

    • I have both and love both! I have two pairs of rothy’s round toed and they are very comfortable. I have one pair of the pointed and while they are really stylish, not so comfortable. I am hoping to buy a pair of the loafers in time. The Tieks are absolutely wonderful. They’re made of soft italian leather and they fit like a glove, and so comfortable. I had a hard time getting past the price and I had a pair in my cart for a long time before buying. Because they’re so expensive, I would begin with a neutral pair that you can wear with just about anything. I would stay away from the ‘glittery’ pairs as that does wear off. I highly recommend both brands

  • I too love Vionics as well as Spenco. Both brands have support. I can no longer wear heels at all and it is hard finding shoes that are stylish and supportive without looking styles like my 8th grade librarian wore (I’m 62 so you can do the math! LOL!).

  • Has anyone ever heard of the brand Zcoil? I also work long hours handling freight in a retail store but since I bought one of these pairs of shoes it has definitely helped my planter facillitus in my left foot a bunch. Now if I can just figure out why my right foot feels like it is on fire, I would feel immensely better. Aside from the price of these shoes which ranges from $199 on up depending on the style and if they are on sale or not my husband and I love ours a lot!

    • Oh yeah, I have a pair of Zcoils from years ago when I started having real issues with pain from lower back/hips to my feet. I was working three jobs for a short time and was on my feet a lot which took out my back. A co-worker had a pair of Zcoils and I figured I’d get a pair and see how they worked for me. They are very heavy to wear on the feet for any length of time and I’m not sure anymore if they relieved any pain, though. It was a long time ago. I still have them, but haven’t worn them. Plus, they are really funky looking!

      I’m into minimalist shoes now, Lems, specifically. They have no “drop”, the slant between the toes and heels, and the sole is thin and very flexible so it feels like there’s nearly nothing between your foot and the ground. The toe box is wide (as it should be) so your toes can splay naturally, the way they’re supposed to. The inner sole can be removed if need be if you have to add orthotics, etc. to the shoe. I also bought “Comfort Toes” which are toe separators which help the toes splay out. I wear them both when I work out or have to run errands and they do help, but even these pricey options have not alleviated all my foot/leg pain. (sigh) I suspect nothing will, I’m just one of those people for whom stuff doesn’t work the way it does for others. The other thing is that the styles aren’t very pretty, even their MaryJane’s are very plain. I’ve already suggested prettier styles, but I think it will be a long time before they get there.

      But I will agree with Jillee here about mules, stilettos, and will add pointy toes and thick platforms to the list as really bad styles for your feet. Check out Natural Foot Gear on line, they have a pretty thorough site that explains everything about minimalist type shoes, etc.

  • I agree 100% except for the slip ones, there are some companies that make shoes that have better support in them. I personally can’t afford Birkie’s as much as I have always wanted a pair. I used to wear ballet flats all the time until, yep you got it I ended up with severe plantar fasciitis. I love most Sketchers as they do have good foot-beds overall. I have had a few pairs I had to give up. Bernie Mev’s are my newest favorite for summer. (I get them when they are on sale) They are lightweight and have excellent foot-beds. I look for wedge heels,for my dressy shoes, as I was told by someone these are easier on your feet than pointy toe or flat. Great report Jillee, most people don’t realize what they are doing to their feet.

  • Years ago I had a hairline fracture in my right second metatarsal, it happened at work….I was told a contributing factor was plantar fasciitis….I didn’t even know I had it! Just that my feet really hurt because I was on my feet for long shifts almost everyday. He recommended “Superfeet” insoles, specifcally the black ones. Years later I discovered they make orthopeadic flip-flops! (AND they don’t look like “old lady” shoes!) They’re not cheap, but how many pairs do you need? I still buy the insoles, and I keep the “old” ones to use in UGG style boots to give them some support. That flat style of boot is just as bad for you as cheap flip flops, but they really do keep your feet warm. I don’t have a furnace, so I have a couple of oversized pairs so I can also wear heavy, thick socks. with them. I think “Superfeet” has come out with regular shoes now, I’m waiting for a clearance sale. Oh, and thanks to all who have contributed input as to shoe manufacturers that make comfortable. supportive shoes. It’s great to have options!

  • Being a nurse and on my feet most of the day, I suffered with plantar fasciitis. I tried various recommended shoes without relief. Orthopedist told me about vionic shoes and sandals and I no longer suffer with this issue. The arch support is reinforced and I cannot tell you how comfortable they are. They are very attractive also.

  • Those of us beyond a “certain age” remember that shoes used to routinely come with arch support. The advent of imports and cheaper shoes meant the end of that. Today even “better” shoes no longer have them because one size does NOT fit all and it is cheaper to manufacture them without support. Now we have the advent of specialty brands with support at a higher price of course to address the scores of us who have ruined our feet with shoes that essentially abandoned us.

    Now we must buy insoles with arch support to make up the difference, assuming that the style of the shoe will permit. As a barefoot girl born with foot and ankle problems, I can also recommend walking tiptoe daily to build strenght in arches and in ankles. It is not a cure, but it might help you too. As someone who is also “vertically challenged,” people just assume I’m trying to get a better view or reach something over my head rather than exercising. I’ll never tell.

  • I love flip flops and I now have the flattest feet! I get sandals, flip flops and insoles from Spenco. They are not cheap but worth it and they have clearance sales.

  • Plantar fasciitis is no joke. I have had custom orthotics made to slip into shoes. I have also, on podiatrist recommendation, discovered Alegria and Aetrex shoes. MAJOR change!

  • I’ve had issues before with my feet. I used to have problems with getting blisters in my heels from flats not fitting properly. At one point when I was much younger it made me limp. I do wear heels for occasions like Church because I’m so darn short . I did recently buy a pair of Birkenstock type shoes. I’ve had issues with plantar fasciitis, My brother who works for orthopaedix surgeons recommended a brace to wear at night.Its expensive, but has helped. The plantar issue is caused by being on my feet at work all day. I’ll definetly get me some shoe inserts.

    • Just wondering if anyone knows if the inserts shown for the flats would work with my sneakers for work. My comfy Birkenstock style are actually a cute Madden girl pair that was on sale. I do like some of the styles mentioned for the plantar fasciitis, however they are way too expensive for me.

  • A few years ago, I sought to make a plantar fasciitis condition better by switching shoes, but the shoes I chose were those rocker heel gym shoes that start out lower than your normal heel and rock you forward over a very high arch. They are almost platform high and very hard to learn to walk in at first. I sprained my ankle falling off a pair, and my doctor said they are never meant for every day. A better choice were an unbendable sole and firm stable arch support, like those made by Abeo, Ryka, Brooks, and Vionic.

  • The issue with mules is easily solved. BUY THE CORRECT WIDTH SHOE FOR YOUR FOOT!
    I see so many women that are wearing shoes that are too wide for their feet.
    I wear a 91/2 AAAA. It is getting more and more difficult to find shoes that fit.
    I think women settle for an ill fitting shoe because a medium width is all that is available.

  • I lo v e flip flops but I have serious plantar fasciitis. I bought a pair of fitflop @ brand and they are great! They have a cushioned heel so I can still have beach shoes!

  • I broke my foot just over a year ago when I was wearing my flip flops. My foot went over the side of a step, painfully!. I am now awaiting for my second operation to try to heal it! Its been a year of pain and frustration. The surgeon tells me that the break doesn’t always heal properly.
    Its not worth while, folks! They really don’t give your foot any support at all.
    I just purchased a pair of Naot sandals that are made in Israel. Beautiful sandal and so very comfortable. Worth the cost.

  • The only brand of shoes I wear are Crocs they have wonderful arch support and are the only shoes that don’t make my hooked heel spurs hurt. Back when I was working in retail I had to have a not from my podiatrist so I could wear Crocs at work. I had the solid Crocs (no holes) with the deeper foot bed. Crocs flip flops also have arch support I have been buying the Athens style for over ten years, I live in Detroit Michigan and we get lots of snow in Winter my Crocs Winter boots are up for the task.

    • Katy, we must be “sole” sisters. I wear Crocs 365 days a year. Just got a new pair. They’re classic black. I tell everyone they’re my dress shoes. :)

    • I love my crocs also. I have a nice pair of black ones (don’t remember the style name) No holes, fine mesh top. I just wish they made a steel toe boot so I could wear them to work too.

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