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'Comfort Shoes' Linked To Knee, Joint Problems: Why Comfortable Shoes May Cause More Harm Than Good

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Comfort claim to help ailing feet, but they might be doing your piggies a disservice, leading to harm in knees and joints. Doug 88888, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The phrase, "beauty is pain," might not necessarily be true for many popular comfort shoes. A small study was conducted on people who suffered from osteoarthritis of the knee found that walking in clogs and comfort shoes put more of a strain on the participant as compared to walking barefoot or in flip-flops.

This might mean that buying expensive and specialized shoes could be unhealthy for any joints above the ankle for people with arthritis. For people with arthritis these “comfort” shoes can sometimes alter their gait in an unhealthy way, and might temporarily cause pain.  

Shoes like Dansko clogs, Ecco, Birkenstock, and Aerosoles are some of the most popular “comfort shoes.” They have cushioning under the pad of the foot and supportive insoles for the arch.  For many people, they are a smart way to help with foot issues. But for those who are already predisposed to arthritis these shoes could be detrimental.

According to Selene Parekh, an orthopedic surgeon at Duke University Health System, you must first figure out what type of foot you have and how you walk before buying a shoe, the Washington Post reports.

Foot pain is not an isolated issue, it can affect your legs, back and even cause headaches. Injury, overuse and trauma are all factors that can cause foot pain. According to the National Institutes of Health, 24 percent of adults have foot pain, a condition that increases with age.

“Foot pain, particularly related to shoes, footwear, and rheumatic disorders, may be an important modifiable factor,” said researchers,  Jody Riskowski, Ph.D, Alyssa B. Dufour, M.A., and Marian T. Hannan, D.Sc.

Cost does not necessarily equate to quality either. Many of these comfort shoes are expensive and unless they fit your foot correctly, you might be doing your piggies and wallet a disservice.

“Look for a shoe that’s supportive and comfortable — for you,” says Parekh to the Washington Post, “That may not mean spending nearly $200 on a pair of loafers marketed to fit what one shoemaker calls the ‘anatomical footbed [footbeds are designed to accommodate the heel width, backstay shape, and heel depth].’”

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