Your Shoes Could Be Contributing to Your Knee Pain

There’s no doubt that the shoes you wear can contribute to knee injuries and pain. Your shoes influence foot movement, which determines the amount of pressure placed on your knees. Before long, ongoing stress causes a new knee problem or makes an existing problem worse.

When you have knee pain or a problem with your feet, Pennsylvania Orthopedic Associates is the place to go for individualized care. We have years of experience helping patients stay active by finding the shoes they need for knee support or prescribing customized orthotics for their existing shoes.

How shoes and feet affect your knees

Your feet and knees work together as a functional unit, sharing the responsibility of supporting your body weight and providing balance, while moving your body and absorbing the shock every time you take a step or jump. To do their jobs and stay pain-free, the joints and bones must stay in proper alignment.

When the structures in your knee joint are properly aligned, the pressure they sustain is evenly distributed. This is how your knee can bear the daily stress of joint loading — the force on the joint during activity — and stay functional and healthy.  

Abnormal changes in foot biomechanics, or the way your foot moves, affect knee alignment. Changes in foot movement may develop from a structural problem or injury. For example, feet that roll inward, change the alignment in your lower leg, placing excessive and uneven pressure on your knee.

The shoes you wear have a significant impact on the position and movement of your feet and, by extension, on your knee. Shoes that properly support your feet allow you to move naturally, maintain normal leg and knee alignment, and reduce damaging stress on your knees. Improper footwear, on the other hand, leads to knee injury and pain.

Impact of different shoes on your knees

Here are a few examples of how different shoes affect your knees:

High-heeled shoes

High heels change your body posture enough to increase the amount of weight and stress placed on your knees. The extent of the extra stress rises along with the height of your heels.

It only takes a moderately tall heel to shift your center of gravity and put more force on your knee joint. Moderate and high heels force you to walk with a flexed knee, even when the knee should be fully extended to support a normal gait.

If your high heels also have pointed toes, your foot becomes more unstable because you need toe movement to maintain balance. This style combination seriously increases the load on your knees.

Rigid vs flexible shoes

You can move your foot more naturally when your shoes are flexible. By comparison, rigid shoes limit your foot movement, which may increase the stress on your knee. In this case, however, the best choice isn’t always obvious. Whether you need rigid or flexible shoes depends on the underlying problems you may have with your feet and knees. 

Flat shoes

Flat shoes typically don’t provide arch support or much foot support of any kind. Proper arch support is essential for absorbing shock and distributing pressure throughout your feet, legs, and knees in a way that prevents injury and pain. An arch that’s too flat (or too high) leads to abnormal force distribution, which, in turn, strains your knee.

Choosing shoes that support your knees

Shoes should cushion the soles of your feet, support proper alignment, and provide enough arch support. They should also be comfortable, fit well, and have a toe box that doesn’t squeeze your toes. And it helps to choose shoes that are made to fit the demands of the sport you enjoy.

But here’s our most important tip: If you have knee pain, the shoes that seem best for your feet may not be the best for your knees. If you have high arches, you may need stability shoes, while flat feet need customized inserts to ensure proper alignment.

Many of our patients need customized shoes that are appropriate for their feet and knee issues. We provide individualized orthotics and recommend specialized shoes that can keep you active and pain-free.

If your shoes have been contributing to foot pain, call Pennsylvania Orthopedic Associates, or book an appointment online to talk to our physicians about how we can help. 

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