Sartorial folklore has long held that wearing flats is generally much better for your feet than wearing über-high heels, and science has time and again supported this theory, with numerous reports revealing the damaging health results of wearing heels. This should come as no surprise, especially when your feet start to hurt after wearing sky-high heels for just a few hours. But believe it or not, flats aren't completely out of the doghouse, either. Even a cursory Google search on the health risks of wearing flats reveals some pretty jaw-dropping facts. We delved deeper to find the most upsetting risks we take every time we step into our trusty flats—and many of these will likely shock you as they did us.
Keep scrolling to learn the five most upsetting facts you never knew about the effects of wearing flats.
One rather horrifying tale out of the UK tells the story of a woman who packed her favorite flats for a family vacation only to find herself in debilitating pain for most of the trip. A trip to the emergency room revealed that her shoes had caused her to develop plantar fasciitis, a condition that results from the inflammation of the fascia that runs across the bottom of your foot from your heel bone to your toes. "[The doctor] said that wearing flat, unsupportive shoes such as flip-flops and old trainers had caused my arches to drop, and the ligaments and tendons in the base of my foot to overstretch or tear," the woman recalled.
The Fix: Make sure your flats have plenty of arch support; avoid super-flat shoes with thin soles.
If you develop plantar fasciitis from wearing too-flat shoes, the condition can actually lead to the tendons on the bottom of your feet tearing, a crippling injury that will render you fairly incapacitated.
The Fix: If you are starting to feel pain along the bottoms of your feet, see your doctor sooner rather than later, and invest in quality flats that give your feet plenty of support.
Wearing flats that don't fit properly—especially if they are too tight around your toes—can end up leading to some major problems. A seemingly benign (though admittedly painful) ingrown toenail can turn into an internal infection that can spread to your bones, causing massive health problems.
The Fix: Make sure your toes have plenty of breathing room when you try on a new pair of flats. You should be able to wiggle them around freely and feel no pain.
The biggest problem with flats is the lack of shock absorption that comes along with thin, unsupportive soles. As your foot slams into the ground again and again, your heel bones take the brunt of the impact, and that can lead to problems over time. The most familiar of these problems, of course, is the incredibly painful blisters that form on your Achilles tendon when the back of your flat rubs against your leg; you might think this is because your shoes are ill-fitting, but often it's because of a lack of sole support.
The Fix: Get a pair of low-heel or block-heel shoes instead of flats. Shoes with broad, thick heels are often much better for your health than a pair of flats.
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This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated by Anna LaPlaca.