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The Dangers of Wearing Tight or Ill-Fitting Shoes

The Dangers of Wearing Tight or Ill-Fitting Shoes

Your feet support your entire body. With every step, they take on 2-3 times your body’s weight due to gravity. That’s why you should think of your shoes as a critical support device and not a fashion accessory.

Shoes support you when you stand, walk, run, and jump. Wearing shoes that are tight or ill-fitting causes numerous mechanical dysfunctions in your feet and up your kinetic chain. 

At Silicon Valley Orthopaedics, located in Fremont, Menlo Park, and Los Gatos, California, the medical team consisting of George Thabit, III, MD, Nic Gay, MD, Masi Reynolds, DO, and April Mancuso, MD, see many foot, ankle, knee, hip, and back problems caused or aggravated by poor shoe choices. 

Here are some reasons our team recommends choosing supportive and well-fitting shoes. 

Poorly fitting shoes lead to pain

Shoes that are too tight or provide too little support put ongoing pressure on your feet, ankles, shins and calves, and other joints. Over time, that pressure can lead to pain, dysfunction, and injury. 

Your shoes also affect the way you walk. And, if you walk in a way that’s not quite natural, the rest of your body compensates. 

Wearing the wrong shoes during athletics can lead to sports injuries, including Achilles tendon pain and shin splints. Postural issues and low back pain can also occur, limiting your ability to participate in exercise. Poorly fitting shoes can also cause issues if you stand for long periods. 

Your shoe choices can also aggravate existing problems, including arthritis or bursitis. 

Foot problems caused by ill-fitting shoes

Foot problems that ill-fitting shoes cause include:


A bunion is an enlargement of bone or tissue around the big toe joint. As the bunion grows, your big toe turns inward toward the second toe — causing pain. Genetics put you at risk of developing bunions, but wearing shoes with pointy toes or too tight contributes to their development. 


Corns are small calluses that develop when your tight shoes put pressure on your skin. They’re irritating and may affect your gait. 


Hammertoes describe toes that bend up instead of lying flat. They rub against the top of your shoe and cause pain. Your entire foot can become weaker as a result of hammertoe. 

Crossover Toe

When your toes are stuck in a small toe box, your second or third toe starts to shift and cross over the other.  

Selecting the perfect shoe

We suggest shoe shopping at the end of the day when your foot has swollen slightly from activity. That ensures you get a shoe that fits all the time — not just in the morning. Ask your salesperson to measure both feet to ensure the correct sizing.

When trying on new shoes, make sure there’s no pinching in your toes or upper foot. Don’t assume the shoe will feel better with time. The idea that shoes need to be “broken in” is outdated. They should feel good from the first wear. 

If you’re active in a sport or a runner, get a gait analysis. A trained associate evaluates your walk or run to determine if you pronate (turn in) or supinate (turn out) when you take steps. Shoes that support these gait cycles prevent pain and injury from exercise.

If you need help finding the right shoe fit, schedule an appointment at our office. Contact Silicon Valley Orthopaedics by calling or using this website. If you have any dysfunction due to years of wearing improper footwear, we can help with customized orthotics, physical therapy, and other treatments so you feel more comfortable.


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