Why Can’t I Wear Flats? (Why Do They Hurt So Much?)

If you can’t walk at all in flat shoes, your problem is either your feet or the fit. Your feet might be too flat for walking, or they may pronate excessively so that walking requires extra effort to compensate for bones and muscles not working together as they should. Let’s take a look at why your feet hurt when wearing flats…

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There are many people who appear to be able to walk long distances in flat shoes without any noticeable discomfort. This is no doubt due to the fact that these individuals have well-conditioned leg muscles and are able to support their body weight on their legs with minimal effort.

However, others may find that this is not so easy. Walking in flat shoes can lead to discomfort and even pain in your legs if the shoes are not the right size for you, especially if you have poor leg muscle conditioning.

Why Can’t I Walk in Flat Shoes?

Walking in heels can be hard, but walking in flats with no arch support is even harder. The pressure on the ball of your foot when you walk in high heels is distributed over a broad area of muscle and bone.

When you walk flat-footed with no arch support, the pressure is concentrated on the narrow part of the foot between the ball and your toes. That’s why it hurts so much to walk barefoot on a sandy beach: The sand doesn’t give under your feet, so every step puts pressure on a small area of skin and tissue.

A little bit of physics can explain why your feet hurt after you wear flat shoes. What’s happening is that the arch of your foot is collapsing. When you walk, you push off with the big toe; the other toes are just along for the ride. This works because the big toe is closer to the ground than the other toes, so it pushes hardest.

When you wear high heels, they raise your foot enough that you aren’t pushing off with your big toe; you push off with one of the smaller toes.

The result is that all five toes get used more equally, and this puts less stress on each of them. If you use the smaller toes more when wearing high heels, why not do it all of the time? Because if all of your weight is on your smaller toes, they will hurt more and give out faster.

The best way to wear flat shoes comfortably is to alternate between your high heels and your new flats every other day during the first week you have them. That way, your feet can adjust gradually to the new level of support they’ll get from flats. After that, wear the flats only when you have a few hours free during which you won’t have to stand or walk a lot.

Why Does It Hurt to Wear Flats?

Flat shoes hurt because your feet aren’t flat. The human foot is a marvel of engineering and the design that evolved has served us well for thousands of years. To support our weight, we depend on shock absorption and traction provided by the soft-tissue structures (muscles and ligaments) and the bony skeleton (the arch).

The natural shape of our feet is an arch that flattens when the weight comes down on it. The arch acts as a kind of spring when our body weight pushes downward. To help maintain balance, muscles in the foot contract to keep the foot in this position even when weight isn’t being applied. This is why you can walk without falling down or rolling an ankle.

Flat shoes are not comfortable. People who wear them have to “break them in” slowly by wearing them only for short periods of time, then slowly increasing the amount of time they spend on them.

A person can “break-in” their feet by wearing shoes that are slightly too small. The skin of the foot will slowly stretch out to fit the shoe, and after a while, they will be able to comfortably wear shoes of a smaller size.

The same thing happens with “breaking in” flat shoes; the foot has to change shape to accommodate the shoe. There is no reason why women should be forced to walk around in uncomfortable flat shoes because manufacturers think they should be worn like that.

What happens if I wear flat shoes all day?

Wearing shoes with little or no cushioning can lead to the weakening of these muscles, along with increased pronation because there’s nothing supporting the arch in your foot.

That makes you more likely to roll an ankle or trip over your own two feet in these shoes. Over time, it can lead to bunions, hammertoes, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, and other problems.

Why Do My Legs Hurt When I Wear Flat Shoes?

The main reason why the feet and legs will ache when wearing flat shoes is because of the reduced level of shock absorption that can be achieved with flat-soled shoes.

As the foot takes each step, it will be forced to absorb more shock than it would with a shoe that had a thicker sole. This could cause you to develop sore feet and stiff legs over time, which can make it harder for you to wear other types of shoes.

There are other reasons why your legs might become sore after walking in your flat shoes, such as having weak leg muscles or an old injury. However, these other problems can be remedied by improving your leg strength and reducing any strain on your joints.

There are a few other reasons why wearing flats can hurt your legs.

  1. If you wear them to walk for exercise, this could be because the shoes put your legs in an unnatural position. You may feel extra pressure on your heel or your toes.
  2. If you are an athlete, running or walking in flat shoes can cause problems with the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support your feet. The difference between wearing heels and not wearing heels is that heels put your body into the ideal position for running or walking. This means that there isn’t as much force put on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of your feet.
  3. There are also other issues with flat shoes that may contribute to leg pain. Shoes with a narrow toe box or a flat sole can cause pain in the ball of your foot because they do not allow your foot to move comfortably. This can lead to plantar fasciitis if the pain is prolonged. Shoes that are too tight can also lead to discomfort in the ball of the foot since there is not enough room for proper movement.

Does this mean no one should wear flat shoes? Not necessarily. If the small postural changes don’t bother you, then by all means go ahead and wear flat shoes!

But if they do, then consider choosing a shoe with a curve and/or a wedge shape instead. This will lower your arches less than a flat shoe will — or at least raise them less — and thus reduce the risk of pain and injury.

How Do You Fix Uncomfortable Flats?

Everyone has experienced the discomfort of wearing flat shoes. The most common problem is a pain in the heel, either from the shoe itself or from blisters. When you have heel pain, your first instinct may be to ditch the shoes and wear something more comfortable, like heels again. But what if you don’t want to wear heels?

When your flats are uncomfortable, it can be difficult to know where to start. You may need to make some minor changes or you may need a new pair of shoes altogether. It depends on what’s causing the problem.

Your shoes could be too tight. Shoes should fit comfortably around your foot without being too tight or too loose. If your toes are jammed into the front of your flats, that’s an indication that they’re too small. If there’s extra room at the heel, that’s a sign they’re too big. Both situations can cause pain, particularly if you’re walking around all day in them.

You could try inserts or orthotics to help correct for things like pronation or high arches. You’ll also want to wear shoes with a wide toe box which will give your toes room to spread out and not be squished together all day long.

If you’re still having issues with your flat shoes, consider getting custom-made orthotics that were designed just for your foot. These are more expensive than over-the-counter orthotics but they will better support your foot and help correct any problems you may be having.

Another tip is to walk like a man – take longer strides and land on your heel first then roll forward onto your toes. This will take pressure off your back and hips because you aren’t compressing them with every step.

Try wearing your new flats around the house with socks on. Wearing them with socks allows you to walk and break them in before deciding to wear your new shoes without socks.

When it comes to shoes, it’s always best to get fitted by someone who knows what they are doing. This way you’ll know if the shoe is really right for your foot or not. If they don’t fit properly, there’s no point in wearing them anyway, even if they’re cute.


In summary, while you might think the pain from flat shoes stems from their lack of arch support, and that may well be the case however another issue is more likely due to constantly wearing footwear with a high heel.

Our brains are accustomed to processing information provided by our feet. High heels mess with this conditioning, leading many women to believe that they are not capable of walking in flats.

Basically, you are confusing your brain when you walk in high heels because it has become conditioned to expect different information from your feet when you are wearing heels. Your brain receives information that is unexpected and makes you feel uncomfortable when you try to walk in flats.

You may also be interested in… Can You Wear Boots Without Socks? (What About Specific Boots?Can You Get Heels Shortened? (Can You Cut Them Down?) and Can You Use Regular Boots with Waders? (Do You Need Wader Boots?)