How often do you really stop to consider how your fashion choices are affecting your body? Sure, when your new boots rub your heel into a blistered mess or your shoulder gets sore after carrying a heavy tote bag around all day, you become more aware of these choices. But in the interest of educating ourselves even further on the shoes we walk miles in every day, we turned to someone who knows a lot more about the physical effects of our footwear choices than we do: a podiatrist.
Just because we fall head over heels for a new shoe trend doesn't mean that all of these new styles are doing our feet, back, and posture any good. PSA: Some shoe trends are doing bad, bad things to our bodies, according to NYC-based podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare Miguel Cunha. The doctor weighed in on a few of the fall shoe trends of the moment, sharing which he'd be overjoyed to see you wear—and which he cringes at the thought of.
We should note, however, that instead of taking these as hard guidelines to follow, it's better to consider each as suggestions when deciding which shoes go with your outfit. While Cunha advises against a handful of really stylish shoes, that doesn't mean you should burn them upon reading this; use your best judgment. That said, if you're walking miles in the same shoes every day, wouldn't you want to know whether or not it's killing you slowly? Okay, maybe not killing you, but still. Keep reading to discover and shop the best fall shoes for your feet.
Recommends Avoiding: Ankle Boots With Stiletto Heels
We'll never tire of our trusted ankle boots, but not all of them are made equally. Cunha strongly advises steering clear of stilettos, especially stilettos higher than the recommended heel height of one and a half inches. The higher the heel, the shorter strides, which means more pressure on the balls of your feet. This throws off your center of gravity, putting unnecessary stress on your knees and lower back.
Recommends Wearing Instead: Ankle Boots With a Chunky Heel
Instead, he recommends going for an ankle boot with a chunky heel. "The slight heel places less stress on the Achilles tendon and the square toe box helps prevent foot issues like hammertoes, neuromas, and ingrown nails," he notes.
Recommends Avoiding: Sock Sneakers
Balenciaga's buzzy sock sneakers launched a category of sneaker trends all their own, but according to the doctor, they do little more than contribute to a trendy look. The knit upper that hugs the foot and ankle is comfortable, we'll give it that, but it actually provides no support and can even lead to an ankle sprain. Yikes.
Recommends Wearing Instead: Loafers
Loafers are a cool flat-shoe option when you want something more polished than sneakers, and as we recently learned, they get an A+ for being good to your feet. Cunha explains how they "have far more shock absorption, they don't bend easily, and they have more support surrounding the sides and top of the foot, which in turn will result in less foot pain." All the more reason to add a pair of timeless loafers to your wardrobe, no?
Recommends Avoiding: Western Boots With a Narrow Toe
Cowboy boots flooded the scene last fall, so chances are high that you own a pair. But they're not all cringe-worthy to a podiatrist. The main issue all comes down to one detail: the narrow toe box. Cunha explains that "this is not the natural shape of the foot, so the big toe is going to exacerbate a bunion, cause hammertoes, and irritate neuromas. If you must purchase a Western shoe, search for one with a square or wider toe box."
Recommends Wearing Instead: Square-Toe Boots
On that note, the doctor overwhelmingly supports square-toe boots. (Phew, the season's number one boot trend gets a pass.) They're easier on your feet than you'd find on other boots thanks to the roomier toe area.
Recommends Avoiding: Completely Flat Slides
Cunha recommends avoiding slide shoes that are completely flat, as they will contribute to some pretty unpleasant issues like plantar and posterior heel pain, shin splints, knee pain, and back pain. If you do opt for slides, look for a pair that's at least an inch off the ground.
Recommends Wearing Instead: Low Block Heels
Fun fact: Wearing a short heel is better than not wearing a heel at all. Shoes with short heels place less tension in the Achilles tendon and will feel more comfortable. The ideal shoe trend for this? Low block-heel pumps. Thanks to the wave of "grandma" dressing we're seeing right now, these sensible heels have never been cooler.