How Your Shoes Affect Your Risk of Knee Pain

Think of the task you ask of your knees: Be flexible but stable; bend but don’t break; and while you’re at it, support your entire body weight with every step. Healthy knee joints are critical to the alignment and stability of your whole body, and a body out of alignment causes a plethora of health problems, such as headaches, joint pain, nerve compression, muscle spasms, and neck and back pain. 

Keeping your body in proper alignment begins with your feet. The shoes you choose provide either a sturdy platform or a faulty foundation for your ankles and knees. 

At the Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, we see plenty of patients with knee pain either caused or made worse by footwear. If you have knee pain, our team of six specialists, including our board-certified foot and ankle specialist, assesses your condition and develops a customized treatment plan to address the underlying cause of your pain. 

We also help you understand the importance of proper footwear to support your knee joints, whether you’re healing from an injury, just beginning to feel knee pain, or hoping to prevent it. Here’s how shoes affect your knees.

Crooked soles

When you strap a pair of shoes on your feet, you’re effectively replacing the foundation of the ground with a new foundation. Depending on which shoes you use, you could be improving on that foundation or making it worse. 

If you’re wearing old shoes with unevenly worn soles, you could be walking on a slant all day. Take a look at the bottom of your shoes. Are they more worn on one side than the other? If so, that diagonal slant will have you tilting with every step. This changes the way your legs and knees carry your body weight, and over time, it puts strain and pressure on your knee joints and tissues.

High heels

Wearing shoes that are elevated in the heel forces your weight forward over your knees. If your knees are healthy, they can handle the variance for a while, but over the course of a few years, you may notice excess wear-and-tear.

If you already have a knee condition, such as osteoarthritis, high-heeled shoes put you at a distinct disadvantage. The best type of shoe for your knees distributes your weight evenly.

And men can be at risk for the dangers of this as well. Certain dress shoes and boots with elevated heels cause undue stress on the joints and can lead to osteoarthritis over time.

High-top shoes

Though stylish and classic, those high-top shoes and boots can actually affect your knees. They are great for ankle support if you need it, but less mobility in your ankle could lead to overuse of your knees.  

Stiff shoes with thick soles

Your feet were meant to flex and bend as you walk. If you’re wearing stiff shoes with no give to them, other parts of your body will be affected, namely your ankles and knees. 

To find out if your shoes are flexible enough to allow your feet to do their job, grab your shoe by the toe and heel and try twisting it and bending it in half. If you can’t get it to budge, get rid of it. 

Another problem with stiff shoes is that it often means they come with thick soles. This puts you at a high risk for spraining an ankle because it gives you poor perception of the ground beneath you. One misstep can easily lead to a rolled ankle. 

Can the right shoes solve your knee problems?

Shoes can either help or hinder your knee problems, but they aren’t the complete answer. Depending on what’s wrong with your knees, we can give you an overall plan to manage or alleviate your symptoms, which may include an assessment of your footwear. 

Some shoes are designed to help you rehab your injured knees, but if worn when unnecessary, they could have the opposite effect. First, we start with a diagnosis.

Our team is highly trained to treat you with the most advanced technologies and techniques, whether you:

From pain-relieving joint injections, to minimally invasive repairs, to regenerative medicine, including platelet-rich plasma and stem cell therapy, our patients trust us to expertly and compassionately guide them through the healing process. Our goal is to determine the root cause of your pain, help you heal as quickly and completely as possible, and return your body to a state of wellness. 

If you have knee pain and wonder if you need surgery or just a new pair of shoes, call us today to schedule a consultation, or book one online using our convenient scheduling tool

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