Can Shoes Cause Knee Pain? Check Detailed Guide

Written By Ahson Zahir

There are two things in life that I'm passionate about, shoes and writing. Combining both of my passions with my designing degree, I write forShoePeeps to help readers pick the best work boots, have fun.

Do your feet hurt after a long day at work? Are you a runner who has started to experience knee pain? You may be suffering from overuse injuries. Many people don’t realize that their shoes may be the root of their problems.

This blog post will discuss how improper shoe wear can lead to pain in the knees and other body parts. We will also offer recommendations for choosing the proper shoes for your needs. Read on to learn more.

How your shoes are causing knee pain:

The impact and effect of every step you take while walking travels into your foot, then it goes up to your knees, and after that into your hips and lower back. If you take inadequate steps are your steps are not properly supported, you might experience knee pain. This is why shoes with inappropriate fitment can alter your walking posture and may also affect your knees.

Furthermore, below are some ways how your shoes can cause more damage than good:

The shoe heel is too high.

Knee osteoarthritis is a common problem among users and those who stand most of their time. However, this condition is much more common in women as they often wear footwear with high heels. We agree that those pumps are adorable, but they might result in various damage to your knees and joints. Keep in mind that high-heeled shoes keep your feet in an unnatural position and apply more force on your knees while walking.

Lack of Support:

Less arch support provided by your shoes can also cause knee pain as it puts excessive pressure and strain on your knees. Here recommend you to use Orthotic insoles, which provide additional arch support and make your shoes more reliable and supportive. Moreover, you can also use custom orthotics after consulting your doctor. Lastly, remember that the wrong or inappropriate amount of support also damages your knees.

Shoe fitment is Crucial.

If your feet are more inclined over the sides or you are wearing too tight or bigger shoes, you will not get proper foot support. Besides, old shoes with damaged or affected soles and thinning treads can also result in severe knee pain.

How to choose the right shoes

Choosing the right type of shoes is vital for your feet. This is more important than a glance at the newest shoe styles. If you also want reliable support for your body, joints and relief from knee pain, consider these key points when selecting new footwear:


Bend your shoes a bit when buying. If your shoes are not flexible, they will limit your movement and foot. Limited shoe flexibility can also affect your stride and causes knee pain.

Heel height

The difference in shoe height from toe to heel needs to be subtle. The heel is one of the essential parts of a shoe, and its height can significantly impact both comfort and style. For most people, the ideal heel height falls into the mid-range, measuring 2-3 inches or 5-7.5cm. This classic heel height is comfortable enough to wear all day while still providing a bit of lift.

Mid-height heels are versatile, working well with casual and formal styles. If you’re looking for a heel that will take you from the office to after-work drinks, a mid-height heel is always a good choice.

Shoe Sole

When selecting a pair of shoes, it is essential to consider the width and thickness of the sole. A too-thin sole can provide insufficient support, leading to foot pain or injury. Conversely, a too thick sole can make the shoe difficult to walk in and may cause blisters.

For this reason, it is best to choose a shoe with a moderate sole width and thickness. This will provide adequate support while maintaining comfort and breathability.

Additionally, select a shoe with a cushioned insole to further protect your feet.


When trying on shoes, pay close attention to how they feel. If you feel any bunching, pinching, or squeezing, it’s probably best to move on to a different pair. It’s also important to walk around in the shoes for a few minutes to see how they feel when you move.

With a bit of patience, you’ll eventually find a pair of stylish and comfortable shoes.


When shopping for shoes, it is crucial to find a well-fitted pair. One way to ensure a good fit is to choose shoes shaped like your feet. This can be tricky, as many shoes are not designed with this in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your feet may change shape throughout the day, so it is best to try on shoes later in the day when your feet are at their largest. With a little effort, you should be able to find a pair of shoes that are both comfortable and stylish.

Ways The Wrong Shoes Can Affect Your Knees

If you’re a runner, worker, or home user, you know that the wrong shoes can affect your knees. 

In this section, we’ll discuss how the wrong shoes can impact your knees and what you can do to prevent them. We’ll also provide tips for choosing the right shoes for your needs. 🙂

Damaged Collapsed Arches

When your footwear doesn’t provide enough support, your arches can become severely damaged. Besides, this can also cause continuous foot pain. In some cases, this can also lead to incorrect gait, leading to knee strain. Inadequate foot support can also result in collapsed or weak arches.

In such cases, the typical culprits are flip-flops and flat shoes with minimum foot support.

Severe Impacts

Do you know that high heels can also cause knee pain? Furthermore, it is also seen that formal dress shoes are not for your knees. Speaking of heels, as per consumer reports, Stiletto heels are more harmful to your feet as they misalign your body and apply more strain on your knees. Hence we recommend wearing heeled shoes with low-heel designs.


When your shoes or work boots don’t offer enough foot support to your knees, this might cause knee pain and also make them unbalanced.

Foot support is prominent if you perform intense physical activities such as running or walking. While running, walking, or playing sports, use high-quality athletic shoes that offer adequate support and come with sturdy heel cups.

Soreness is important

Wearing a pair of too-tight shoes can result in knee pain as well as some other issues. This can also lead to soreness in your lower body. Once your feet or legs get painful, you will have to change your posture and how you walk. This can also alter your walking, and soon you will feel fatigued and have pain in your knees.

This can happen by wearing any type of footwear, but flip-flops cause this problem more than the others.


Overpronation is a medical condition that occurs when your foot turns to the inner with every step, putting too much strain on your knees. Furthermore, over-pronating could lead to various foot issues such as torn ligaments, aches, and other injuries.

To avoid these problems, we recommend you find shoes with soft and robust midsoles. Lastly, if you do not feel balanced wearing your shoe soles, go to your podiatrist to treat the matter.

Shortened Posture

Not many people know that the wrong type of sandals can shorten your gait. If you face any issues while wearing your sandals or keep adjusting your toes frequently, this means you have this problem.

Tendon Strain

Knee pain sometimes can be impermanent or severe, and sometimes it disturbs the tendons. With time, tendon pressure can turn into chronic pain and other knee injuries. Any type of footwear that affects your posture can cause knee and tendon strain.

The worst Shoe types for your knees

The shoes you wear can have a significant impact on the health of your knees. Wearing the wrong type of shoe can put extra stress on the joints, leading to pain and inflammation. In some cases, it can even cause long-term damage. Here are some of the worst shoes for your knees:

Shoes That Can Cause Knee Pain

High Heels

Wearing high heels regularly can place extra stress on the knee joint, leading to pain and inflammation. In extreme cases, it can even cause lasting damage to the cartilage.

Remember, a high heel means additional stress on your knee and joints. Walking in high heels can also alter the femur’s position, which causes severe problems, including knee pain. Due to this reason, why high heels are known as the worst shoes for knee pain.

Flip flops

Flip flops offer minimum support for your foot, which applies extra strain on your knee joints. Furthermore, they also rub against your skin, which can further result in irritation and swelling.

The poor running and athletic shoes

You will find several running and athletic shoes from different companies, but not all are equal in terms of manufacturing and performance. But remember that cheap and poorly designed shoes are the most significant reason for knee pain and other foot problems.


Can cushioned shoes cause knee pain?

While cushioned shoes may feel comfortable on your feet, they can also cause knee pain. The extra cushioning can make your feet roll inward when you walk, putting stress on your knees. In addition, the extra padding can make it difficult to feel the ground, leading to an uneven stride and more joint pain. If you’re experiencing knee pain, switching to a more minimalist shoe with less cushioning is best. This will allow you to feel the ground better and maintain a more natural stride, ultimately reducing stress on your knees.

Can walking without shoes cause knee pain?

According to a recent study walking barefoot may lead to knee pain. The study showed that people who spent more time barefoot had lower knee pain and fewer pain flare-ups than those who wore shoes while walking. This is likely because walking without shoes leaves the foot vulnerable to various problems, which forces your feet to “tread lightly.” 

In other words, less strain will be on your knees when you’re not wearing shoes. While more research is needed to confirm these findings, the authors say that spending more time barefoot may be a simple and effective way to reduce knee pain. So if you’ve been struggling with arthritis pain, consider trying it.

Can bad running shoes cause leg pain?

Yes, poorly designed and ill-fitted shoes can be the reason for leg and knee pain. Some common shoe types can result in knee pain. This is common if you wear high heels, flip-flops, and other shoes that don’t offer sufficient support or fit properly.

Can flat shoes result in knee pain?

Yes, flat shoes might also result in severe knee pain. Flat shoes are the latest ted, and they look stylish but remember these don’t offer enough foot support, which can cause knee pain.

Can the right shoes help knee pain?

Matt Minard, DPT, a physical therapist and orthopedic specialist with Carolinas Healthcare System, explains that the shoes people wear directly impact the overall health of their knees. “Your shoes affect the amount of impact your knee takes with every step,” says Minard. 

She stated, “The right shoes are the first line of defense in dealing with knee pain.” Minard also suggests that people experiencing knee pain should immediately consult with their physical therapist to find the best shoe for their individual needs. Choosing the proper footwear can help reduce the risk of further joint damage and pain.

Can running shoes cause knee pain?

Yes, running shoes can cause various injuries as well as knee pain. It is seen that poorly made running shoes are the primary reason for knee pain. Keep in mind that the running shoe’s durability should be your top-most priority, and you will experience pain when it declines over time.

In the End

So, the next time you’re in the market for a new pair of shoes, keep our tips in mind. And if you’re currently experiencing knee pain, it might be worth considering whether your shoes are to blame. We hope this article has been helpful and informative.

Tid Bits of Facts

  • Averagely, a shoe with a heel height of 2.5 inches wide is recommended, especially for women.
  • Appropriately fitted shoes without heels significantly reduce knee pain, especially if you suffer from osteoarthritis.
  • High heels also force the center of gravity forward, leading to bad posture and knee pain.
  • Running shoes have a limited lifespan; you need to change them after 250-300 miles.
  • If you suffer from arthritic knees, just go to your Physical Therapist for better advice.

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