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  • Kinetic Restoration LLC

The Hidden Link: Poorly Fitting Shoes, Gait, and the Domino Effect of Foot, Hip, and Knee Pain

Many of us underestimate the impact that ill-fitting shoes can have on our overall well-being. From blisters and calluses to foot, hip, and knee pain, our choice of footwear plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy and pain-free mobility. In this blog post, we dive deeper into the connection between poorly fitting shoes, a person's gait, and the subsequent cascade of discomfort within our lower extremities.

  1. The Anatomy of a Poorly Fitted Shoe: Before exploring the consequences, let's examine the telltale signs of a shoe that fails to align with our feet's unique needs. From toe cramping to rubbing against the sides, a poorly fitting shoe can create imbalances in our gait, which, over time, lead to chronic pain and discomfort. Excessive wear patterns on the outside heel, or the outside forefoot of the shoe are very common. As massage therapists, we frequently notice that people who have a lot of wear on the outside edge of their shoes also have a lot of tension and trigger points along the lateral (outside) part of their lower leg and their hips. This is often caused by extra demand on the muscles in these areas to stabilize the body when the foot isn't properly supported.

  2. The Gait Effect: Our gait, or the way we walk, is an intricate mechanism that involves the coordinated movement of various muscle groups and joints. When we wear shoes that do not suit our foot type or provide adequate support, our gait pattern may become altered. This disruption in our natural walking pattern can trigger a domino effect of pain-related issues from the feet up through the hips and knees. Visit a local running store such as Fleet Feet or Running Etc to get properly fitted for what YOUR foot does when your walk or run.

  3. Footwear and Foot Pain: Unsurprisingly, the feet bear the brunt of the burden when it comes to poorly fitting shoes. Conditions such as bunions, corns, and plantar fasciitis are often exacerbated by ill-fitting footwear. Did you know that most people are wearing shoes that are too tight in the toes? If you look down at your toes and your toes are a lot narrower than the ball of your food, you've probably been wearing shoes that are too narrow.

  4. The Hip Connection: Misalignments caused by poorly fitted shoes can disrupt the mechanics of our hips. Overpronation or supination, which occurs when we excessively roll our feet inward or outward, respectively, can throw off the alignment of our hips. Consequently, this misalignment places extra stress on the hip joints, potentially leading to conditions like hip bursitis and hip impingement. We not only notice tension in the hip muscles, but weakness in the adductor (inner thigh) muscles will play into this relationship as well.

  5. The Knee Conundrum: Our knees act as crucial shock absorbers during walking and running. However, wearing shoes that lack proper arch support or are too narrow can create imbalances in the alignment of the knees. Over time, this misalignment can result in issues like patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner's knee), IT band syndrome, and osteoarthritis.


The next time you hesitate to invest in properly fitting shoes, consider the profound impact they have on your overall health. By understanding the connection between poorly fitting shoes, gait abnormalities, and foot, hip, and knee pain, we can take proactive steps to choose footwear that promotes comfort, support, and long-term well-being. Let's strive for pain-free mobility and a healthier, happier stride.

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