How Your Shoes Impact Your Knee Pain

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an on-the-go mom, you may be in danger of experiencing knee pain because of the shoes you wear. The wrong pair of shoes can affect not only your feet and knees but your overall health as well. 

The team at Coastal Empire Orthopedics is committed to relieving your knee pain and educating you on how to best support your body, especially your knees.  

Overview of the knee

Your knee is a very large and complicated part of your anatomy. Your thigh bone, shin bone, and kneecap all come together at this one place. Not surprisingly, this joint needs a lot of support to do its job properly. 

Most of that support comes from your feet and the shoes you wear. Wearing the right shoes can prevent knee pain, and it’s one of the most important components to managing more serious knee problems, such as knee osteoarthritis. 

How your shoes are affecting your knees

The impact of each step you take travels first into your foot and ankle, then up to your knees, and then into your hips and back. If your steps are not properly cushioned and supported, you’re very likely to experience knee pain. Shoes that don’t fit properly or alter your posture and gait can also affect your knees. 

Here are a few ways shoes can do more harm than good:

The heel is too high

Knee osteoarthritis is much more common in women than men because women are more likely to choose footwear with high heels. While those pumps might look adorable on the shelf, they can cause significant damage to your joints. High-heeled shoes can put your feet in an unnatural position and increase the force on your knees. 

Your foot is not supported well

A lack of arch support in your shoes can put an inordinate amount of force on your knees. Orthotic insoles with added arch support can make your shoes more supportive. But, you should consult us or consider custom orthotics, because adding the wrong amount of support can be equally as damaging to your knees. 

The shoes don’t fit or they’re old

If your feet are hanging over the sides, the shoes are too tight, or the shoes are too big, your knees will not be properly supported. Also, old shoes with worn-down soles and thinning treads can put you at risk for increased knee pain. 

How to choose the right shoes

Choosing your shoes should be more than a quick glance at the latest styles. If you want more support for your joints and relief from pain, consider these things when selecting footwear:


Give shoes a quick bend or two. If a shoe is not flexible, it can restrict your foot, affect your stride, and increase knee pain. 

Heel height

The difference in height from toe to heel should be subtle. 


Be sure to select a pair of shoes with a moderate sole width and thickness.


Your shoes should feel comfortable. If you feel bunching, pinching, or squeezing, move on to a different pair of shoes. 


Try to find shoes that are shaped like your feet. To help in this process, trace the shoe you want on a piece of paper and then step barefoot onto the outline to see if your foot fits within it. 

We also recommend that you shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening. Your foot will expand throughout the day, so the later you can shop for shoes the better.  Furthermore, bring along socks that you will wear with the shoes, and walk around the store in the shoes to check for comfort and support. 

Pay attention to when it’s time to replace your shoes as well. Typically, shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles or 9 months. Look at the tread on the soles. If the tread is bare, it’s time for a new pair. 

If you’re suffering from disease or damage to your knee, or you’re simply feeling daily pain, choosing the right shoes can help you feel relief. We offer many treatment options for knee pain, from helping you choose the right footwear, to providing physical therapy and joint replacement surgery. If you’re ready to take a step toward relieving your knee pain, book an appointment online or over the phone with Coastal Empire Orthopedics today.

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