Danger: 5 Surprising Ways You’re Putting Your Feet at Risk

Last month, I sat down with renowned podiatrist Phil Vasyli, founder of the Vasyli Think Tank, Vionic, Orthaheel and Dr. Weil Integrative Footwear. I knew pounding up 27 flights of stairs (my idea of exercise on days when I can’t get to the gym) couldn’t be good for my feet, but I was shocked to learn that these seemingly harmless behaviors, along with lifestyle factors, can wreak havoc on your hooves as well.

1. Walking barefoot on a hard, flat surface (like the floors in your home), especially first thing in the morning.
Our feet are designed to walk on soft, natural, undulating surfaces. Walking between 5,000 to 10,000 steps a day on flat surfaces causes unnatural stress on foot structures. “Our footprint allows the natural ground to accommodate the contours of our feet,” Vasyli says. “The softer ground gives way to our heel at foot strike, allowing the outside of the foot to sink into the surface, which correspondingly supports the inside of our foot and the collapse of our arch.” Bottom line: socks aren’t enough.  To help prevent and relieve common aches, like heel pain, and even knee pain, try orthotics inserts or Orthaheel technology which helps you get back your footprint so our feet can function as they were intended.

2. Wearing ballet flats and regular flip flops.

These flat, non-supportive “spongy” or soft footwear are bad news. “Contrary to common belief, shock absorption is not the answer to conditions associated with misalignment of the feet and lower limbs,” says Vasyli. “Sure, they feel comfortable but soft, flat foot beds allow the feet to over-pronate – roll inwards beyond normal ranges of motion (that means you’re pushing off almost completely from the big toe). Conditions associated with over-pronation range include heel pain, plantar Fasciitis (pain and inflammation in your feet), knee pain, shin splints, Achilles Tendonitis, lower back pain and more.” The ballet flats might look stylish, but wearing supportive footwear is key for alleviating pain.

3. Not stretching your calves properly (or at all!)

Nip foot and lower leg pain in the bud by stretching your calf muscles. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that even unfit and overweight people have fit-looking calves because these muscles do so much work. Try this simple routine tweak from Dr.Vasyli: Each time you walk up a staircase, pause on the first step and stretch each of your calves down for 30 seconds.

4. Becoming more active than usual; whether abruptly or over time.

When beginning or intensifying a fitness routine, start from the ground up and make sure your sneakers offer enough support to keep your feet healthy as you “jumping jack”  your way towards your  wellness goals.

5. Being overweight, even just a little.

Research has shown that excess weight can raise the risk of not-so-fun conditions like tendon inflammation and osteoarthritis. “Simply by being overweight, you can put your feet at risk,” says Vasyli. “Just as intensifying activity can increase force on your feet, so can adding a large amount of weight, which puts additional stress on the foot with every step you take.” If you’re overweight, but concerned about getting moving, try starting with low-impact activities like swimming, water aerobics , the rowing machine or yoga.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

Fields marked with an * are required
Foods That Harm Foods That HealWant a Free eBook?
FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL offers important information about the role diet plays in the struggle against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Answer the question below to receive your FREE digital eBook.

Someone in my household experiences the following conditions:

Send me a link to download FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL:
By clicking below, I agree to the Trusted Media Brands Privacy Policy