8 Ways the Wrong Shoes Can Affect Your Knees

Noyes Knee Institute Signature

Published On

Sep 15, 2016


Patient Education

Shoes may complete your outfit, but the wrong shoes can seriously damage your knees over time. In this blog, we list eight common ways poor shoe choices can impact your knees and which shoes cause specific knee problems.

1. Collapsed Arches

When your feet don’t have enough support, your arches can collapse. Arch problems cause persistent foot pain that can contribute to incorrect gait. When you have to walk to favor your aching feet, your knees can become strained.

Common shoe culprits for collapsed arches include flip flops and flats with no internal support.

2. High Impact

Your most formal shoes are probably also the worst for your feet. Stiletto heels in particular throw your entire body out of alignment, forcing your knees to endure much higher impact than usual. Only wear heeled shoes occasionally since even low-heeled pumps can increase knee impact.

3. Instability

Strong lower body motion starts with your feet. When your shoes don’t have enough support, neither do your ankles or your knees. A lack of support can encourage your knees to bend improperly and become unstable.

Support is especially important during physical activity. When running, playing sports, or even standing for long periods of time, wear athletic shoes with lots of internal support, strong heel cups, and side posts that support the ankle.

4. Lower Body Fatigue

Wearing improper shoes can be hard on your feet. Once your feet become tired, you change the way you walk. This alteration can in turn tire out your knees, making you more prone to acute knee injuries.

Lower body fatigue can happen with any ill-fitting shoe, but it is particularly common with flip flops.

5. Misalignment

For your knees to function properly, they must stay in good alignment with your hips and your feet. Shoes that change body alignment force your knees to work harder.

For example, high heels change the angle of the feet, forcing your weight forward. This misalignment keeps your knees tensed and puts continuous pressure on the kneecap.

6. Overpronation

Overpronation occurs when the knee and leg turn inward each time you take a step. This twisting motion strains the knees and can lead to aches, ligament tearing, and other serious injuries.

Choose shoes with strong midsoles to keep your foot facing forward as it should. If you notice uneven wearing on your shoe soles, talk to a podiatrist or knee expert about treatment for overpronation.

7. Shortened Gait

Your natural gait is typically healthiest for your joints, including your knees. When you have to think about each step you take because of your shoes, you automatically shorten your gait. A shortened gait can contribute to lower body fatigue.

Sandals are one of the most common contributors to gait shortening. If you must clench your toes to keep your sandals on or step in a particular way to prevent the shoes from slipping, you’re wearing the wrong sandals.

8. Tendon Strain

Knee strain can be somewhat superficial or it can affect the tendons in the area. Over time, tendon strain contributes to chronic pain and many knee conditions. Any shoe that forces your foot into an unusual position can cause tendon strain.


If you notice knee pain, consider your shoes first, especially if you lead an active lifestyle or work for long hours on your feet.

Need help finding better shoes or high-quality inserts? Work with the team at Noyes Knee Institute. We diagnose and treat knee conditions, including those caused by a habit of wearing difficult shoes. We can help you ensure that your shoe choices support your knees rather than undermining them.