Most Texans know that the state’s long, hot summers mean a very long season of wearing open-toe shoes and sandals, sometimes from March to October or even longer. In hot weather, sandals, flip-flops, and strappy heels make sense to keep feet cool. But as cooler weather approaches, Texas feet have different footwear needs. Closed-toe shoes offer more warmth, coverage, protection, and support through the milder months.
But before you head to the shoe store this fall (or open your favorite shopping browser), it’s important to understand that buying the right kind of closed-toe shoes is critical to your overall foot health. At Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists, our Keller foot and heel pain podiatrists are here to help you make the best choices. While buying the right closed-toe shoes can protect you from common foot problems, buying the wrong shoes could leave you more susceptible to certain foot conditions, including Morton’s neuroma.
The Benefits of Closed-Toe Shoes
During the fall and winter months, closed-toe shoes may be the best choice for your foot health. The podiatrists at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists see hundreds of patients each year, and they discuss why you should consider wearing closed-toe shoes.
Closed-toe shoes provide a physical barrier that shields your feet from potential hazards such as sharp objects, falling objects, or accidental impacts. This protection can help prevent injuries such as cuts, bruises, and fractures. Closed-toe shoes also offer weather protection—insulation and protection from cold weather, rain, and snow. Keeping your feet warm and dry is crucial for maintaining foot health in adverse weather conditions.
Many closed-toe shoes, especially those designed for sports or orthopedic purposes, offer excellent arch support and cushioning. This support can help maintain proper foot alignment and reduce the risk of overpronation and other foot problems.
Closed-toe shoes often have sturdy soles and reinforced heels, which improve stability and reduce the risk of ankle sprains or other injuries. This added stability is particularly beneficial for individuals with weak ankles or a history of ankle problems.
Closed-toe shoes can help keep your feet cleaner and protect them from dirt, dust, and contaminants. This can reduce the risk of fungal or bacterial infections, such as athlete's foot.
Many closed-toe shoes are designed with materials and features that minimize friction between the shoe and the foot. This can help prevent blisters, calluses, and other forms of skin irritation.
Closed-toe shoes can accommodate orthotic inserts or custom-made insoles prescribed by a podiatrist far better than open-toe shoes. This customization can be essential for individuals with specific foot conditions, chronic foot pain, or alignment issues.
How to Buy Closed-Toe Shoes for Optimal Foot Health
While closed-toe shoes can help prevent many foot problems, buying the wrong closed-toe shoes can cause several types of foot health issues and pain. Knowing what to look for in a closed-toe shoe is important in managing your foot health. When you purchase shoes, consider the following:
Know Your Shoe Size
Start by measuring your feet, ideally in the afternoon when they may be slightly swollen. Feet can change in size and shape over time, so it's essential to know your current measurements for both length and width. Many shoe stores offer professional measuring services.
Consider Your Foot Type
It’s not just length that matters. Understand your foot type and any specific conditions you have, such as flat feet, high arches, or bunions. Knowing your foot type will help you choose closed-toe shoes that provide the right support and comfort.
Look for Proper Arch Support
We recommend shoes with adequate arch support, especially if you have flat feet or fallen arches. Check for shoes with contoured insoles or removable insoles that allow you to insert custom orthotics if needed.
Pay Attention to Toe Box Space
This is an important consideration that is often overlooked. Look for shoes with a roomy toe box that allows your toes to spread naturally. Shoes with a narrow or pointy toe box can lead to issues such as bunions, hammer toes, or Morton’s neuroma.
Pick the Right Material
Choose shoes made from breathable materials, such as leather, suede, or mesh, to promote air circulation and reduce moisture buildup. This can help prevent fungal infections such as athlete's foot.
Choose Cushioning for Shock Absorption
Consider shoes with adequate cushioning in the heel and forefoot to reduce the impact on your feet and joints, especially if you engage in activities such as running or walking on hard surfaces or any kind of repetitive or high-impact foot movements.
Opt for Offline Shopping
While shopping online can be convenient, shopping for shoes in person is a better idea. In store, you can inspect the shoes, ensure they fit correctly, confirm that your toes are not squeezed into the toe box, and make sure the shoes have enough cushioning. A shoe sales associate can also help you find the best shoe for your foot and for your needs.
Closed-Toe Shoes and Morton’s Neuroma
If you don’t wear the proper closed-toe shoes, it can cause a number of foot-related medical conditions, including hammer toe, athlete’s foot, and fallen arches. One common condition that can develop by wearing the wrong closed-toed shoes is Morton’s neuroma.
Morton's neuroma is a painful condition that affects the nerve between the toes, usually the third and fourth toes. It often results from repeated irritation or compression of the nerve. Patients diagnosed with Morton’s neuroma in our offices commonly report feeling like there’s a peddle or a marble under their foot near the front of their shoe. Closed-toe shoes can contribute to the development of Morton's neuroma in three ways:
Too-Narrow Toe Box
Many closed-toe shoes, especially dress shoes or certain styles of heels, have narrow toe boxes that squeeze the toes together. This compression can place excessive pressure on the nerves between the metatarsal heads, leading to irritation and the formation of a neuroma. Avoid closed-toe shoes that are too small or that have very pointy toes.
Too High Heels
High-heeled shoes shift the body's weight forward, causing increased pressure on the front of the foot. This can also compress the metatarsal heads and irritate the nerves, increasing the risk of Morton's neuroma. Even an inch or two of heel can aggravate the condition in people who already suffer from it.
Inadequate Arch Support
Shoes with poor arch support may contribute to gait abnormalities, which can lead to increased pressure on the forefoot and metatarsal heads. This pressure can aggravate the nerves and contribute to the development of Morton's neuroma.
Morton’s Neuroma Symptoms and Treatment
You may feel the sensation of a stone or marble in your shoe, but there are other symptoms of Morton’s neuroma. These include:
- burning or shooting pain in the ball of your foot
- numbness or tingling in your toes.
If you’re feeling any sort of pain in your feet, you should get to a Keller podiatrist as soon as you can for a diagnosis and treatment. If you’re diagnosed with Morton’s neuroma, a common treatment is wearing closed-toe shoes that allow your feet more room and support, as well as wearing a shoe with a lower ball-heel ratio (also known as heel-to-toe drop). An ideal shoe for improving Morton’s neuroma pain would include one with a roomy toe box that provides more space for your toes, solid arch support, and a low heel-to-toe drop—the smaller, the better.
Buy Fall Shoes That Will Help You All Year Long
A smart purchase at the shoe store can help you establish and sustain good foot health without the help of a podiatrist. But if you develop a painful foot condition, the doctors at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists can help. If you have questions about buying shoes for your foot profile and health history, we are here to assist you.