Health

Ballerina flats are celebs’ new It shoes — but do they destroy your feet?

This news might be sole-destroying.

Over the past few months, ballet flats have been extremely on pointe in the fashion world, coming back into trend as celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Hailey Bieber and Katie Holmes have all sported the look this summer.

Last week, Meghan Markle even marked her visit to the 2023 Invictus Games in Düsseldorf, Germany, by wearing a nude pair of Chanel slingbacks with black toe caps.

And, after this year’s New York Fashion Week, Footwear News even declared the item as “most definitely back.”

But there’s an unfortunate truth about the cute shoes: ballet flats can actually be pretty bad for your foot health, according to a number of experts.

California-based podiatrist Robert Khorramian declared that ballet flats were some of the most detrimental shoes for your feet — in fact, he labeled them “the worst offender,” per a 2022 article from Who What Wear.

Many celebs, including Hailey Bieber, have been spotted wearing ballet flats this summer.
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Photo of Meghan Markle.
Last week, Meghan Markle marked her visit to the 2023 Invictus Games in Düsseldorf, Germany, by wearing a nude pair of Chanel slingbacks with black toe caps.
dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

Photo of black ballet flats with gingham ties.
Although the shoes are cute, they can be harmful to your foot health, experts say.
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Khorramian explained that this is because the shoes simply do not provide enough support, something that WebMD also noted in its own evaluation.

The doctor told WWW that wearing and walking in ballet flats for a long period of time “causes metatarsalgia neuroma and plantar fasciitis” and can “destroy” the fatty tissue underneath the foot.

If the fatty tissue underneath the foot is worn down, it can cause unsightly and uncomfortable problems like corns and calluses, Khorramian noted.

Sanders Podiatry Clinic in Australia also echoed the doctor’s sentiment, writing that flat shoes can not only cause pain but can even cause or worsen foot conditions like Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, neuromas and flat feet.

Neuromas are an inflammation of a nerve in your foot, between the bones, according to the Cleveland Clinic, while plantar fasciitis can occur if you have overused your foot.


Photo of Sofia Richie.
Wearing ballet flats can worsen already-existing foot problems, experts say. Sofia Richie is shown wearing a vibrant red variety.
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Photo of model Martha Hunt in a sheer white dress.
Model Martha Hunt rocks some red flats. If the fatty tissue underneath the foot is worn down, it can cause unsightly and uncomfortable problems like corns and calluses, Khorramian noted.
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Similarly, Achilles tendinopathy is a strain in your Achilles tendon, where your heel bone is connected to the calf.

The Australian podiatry clinic also revealed that flat shoes can “strain your sole, Achilles tendon and calf muscles” and “have no shock absorption” — meaning that the shoes don’t take in much of your foot hitting the ground, which can make you more prone to injury.

But besides foot injuries, wearing ballet flats can sometimes cause hip, knee and back problems due to the lack of support they offer, according to WebMD.


Photo of fashion designer Marc Jacobs.
Fashion designer Marc Jacobs poses in a pair of the suddenly popular footwear. A podiatry clinic claimed that flat shoes can “strain your sole, Achilles tendon and calf muscles” and “have no shock absorption.”
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Photo of Olivia Rodrigo in jeans and a black shirt and ballet flats.
“Bad idea, right?” singer Olivia Rodrigo hits the town in jeans and a black shirt — and complementary ballet flats.
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Dr. Keagen Hadley, a doctor of occupational therapy based in North Dakota, further explained the phenomenon on his website, writing that wearing flat shoes can “change the alignment of the leg and foot,” which puts “extra stress on the knee joint.”

Hadley explained that flat shoes can increase one’s risk of arthritis in the knee joints because of the lack of support.

Joints can become what he called “overloaded,” leading to a lot of distress on the cartilage.

But fear not — there are still some ways you can wear the shoes more safely.

If you’re still looking to indulge in the trend, Khorramian recommended buying shoes that have a cushiony sole and leave more than enough room for your toes to fit comfortably.

The podiatrist also suggested carrying a separate pair of more supportive shoes in your bag to change into during those days when you’ll be spending a lot of time in flats.

The same thing goes for wearing heels, too, he added.

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