If you’ve ever got to the end of a day and let out a huge sigh of relief upon taking off your shoes then you’re just like hundred of thousands of other Australians. According to a recent study, we’re making bad shoe decisions every day that can result in all-over body ailments like plantar fasciitis (heel pain), lower back pain, nerve problems, misaligned hips and bad posture.

One of Sydney’s leading heel pain specialists, sports podiatrist Karl Lockett, says, “Among the patients I see every day, more than half are suffering pain and injury not just with their feet, but also other parts of the body, from their knees, to their hips and backs. Bad decisions in their choice of footwear is frequently a contributing factor.”

It’s not just our obsession with high heels that are causing the damage (though they ranked number one on Lockett’s naughty list). Lockett put together his list of the worst shoe decisions and we’re afraid to say, some of our favourites are in there.

Thongs

Yep, it’s an Aussie favourite and casual summer staple, but it’s got a complete lack of arch support and shock absorption. Wearing these all day (we’re guilty) can result in sore heels and tender pressure points. We would never ask you to throw away your thongs but do try to avoid wearing them for extended periods of time or when you have a lot of walking to do.

Minimal Runners

We can hear your shocked gasps from here. Minimal runners are an activewear must-have and they’ve become hugely popular thanks to chic styles and bright colours. We’ve all got a pair (or five) of these at home but unfortunately, Lockett isn’t a fan. The problem is that these minimalist, lightweight shoes don’t suit every foot. If you tend to roll in or out then the lack of support in these shoes can cause problems. The soft sole can accentuate over-pronation and Lockett suggests only those with a balanced step wear these shoes.

Maximal Runners

Highly supportive, maximal runners also don’t get a great rap. While well suited to conditioned runners, for those newbies or those lacking in hip, leg or ankle strength, these shoes could make the problem worse. With extra cushioning, a large heel height and increased ankle support, unless these shoes have been properly fitted they can negate our natural biomechanics. Lockett suggests that before purchasing you know your foot type, which means going to see an expert to fit you properly.

Karl’s wrap up

When looking for shoes, here’s what to keep in mind:

Firmness – Hold the shoe in two hands and twist gently to test torsion. If the shoe can be folded back on itself completely, that’s a bad sign.

Toe-box fit – The shoe should accommodate the shape of your toes comfortably.

Supportive heel – The heel needs a decent surface area, to evenly distribute your weight.

Ankle support – The shoe should feel snug but not restrictive on your ankle.