fashion

Sorry, but your favourite summer shoes are actually worse for your feet than heels.

Heels may get a bad rep but it’s actually the shoes you turn to for a more comfortable/practical alternative that may be worse for your feet.

Yes, that means those cute summer sandals, your trusty thongs and even the sneakers you wear to give your feet a break.

“Heels are often seen as the bad guys but flat shoes tend to be the ones that cause most of the problems due to the biomechanics of your foot,” explains Kate McArther, podiatrist and owner of Sydney’s City Feet clinic.

“Essentially your big toe is big for a reason, acting as a lever. Your little toes can claw to hold on. With flats, if you’re having to claw to hold on, then you’re using your little toes as a lever rather than the big toe.”

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Image: iStock

Bottom line - the more straps or fabric holding your foot down, the better.

"One strap at the front and a cardboard-like bottom - you're going to have to hold on for dear life just to get your foot moving," she says.

Anything with too much toe cleavage (we're looking at you, ballet flats) is pretty much the worst. As are any shoes with plastic soles, which are not so great because your foot tends to slip around in them.

Sneakers, which have enjoyed a huge fashion comeback this year, can also cause problems.

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"I have a lot of patients who come to me with heel pain from plantar fasciitis or heel spurs that they have developed from wearing very flat sneakers that don’t offer support," Hillary Brenner, DPM, a podiatric surgeon in New York told The Huffington Post last year.

Australia's national shoe, the thong, can also be bad for your foot, particularly if they're flat with a thin prong.

"The more contoured to the foot, the better. Wider straps will also hold your foot down better," she says.

Wearing these kind of shoes constantly can teach your body to move incorrectly.

"[It can cause] hip issues and lower back pain as well as issues that will arise later down the track," she says.

Listen: We need to talk about Melania Trump's choice of footwear. Post continues after audio.

Simply buying more expensive shoes doesn't automatically solve the problem either.

"Spending more money doesn't necessarily make a better shoe," says McArthur.

Instead, it's all about the style.

"Arch support (or contouring) needs to be further back underneath your ankle, your foot needs to be stirruped. So shoes like Birkenstocks have a relatively good arch support in the right spot as it doesn't go too far forward. Going too far forward stops the big toe from working," she says.

"If you put support in the wrong part of your lever you'll stop it from working. Although heels are not amazing for your hips, they make that big toe joint work better, but then put too much weight on the ball of your foot."

Of course, the bottom line is that if you feel pain from any of these shoes, there's a problem. It indicates your biomechanics are not working with that particular style of shoe.

"You need to treat it like you're injured. If every time you wear those shoes and they hurt, don't wear them. Buy more supportive shoes or get treated and go see someone," she says.

"If I want to wear my Jimmy Choos on a night out, I will. But if my feet hurt and basic treatments like voltaren or soaking in epsom salts don't get the inflammation down, then you have a problem."

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