What’s one thing crisp fall days have going for them (other than, you know, cider donuts and pumpkin everything)? The plethora of comfortable shoe options. Before you get click-happy with the online ordering, it’s important to note that not all footwear is created equal from a medical perspective. We tapped New Jersey podiatrist and star of TLC’s My Feet Are Killing Me, Dr. Sarah E. Haller, DPM, AACFAS, to set the record straight on which fall shoes she actually recommends to her patients. Here are her top five favorites, ranked from best to great, plus the one shoe she begs us to avoid at all costs.
1. Lace-Up Oxfords
Let’s start this list off with Dr. Haller’s number one recommendation for fall shoes: lace-up oxfords. “Oxfords are great for foot alignment, because they have a small flat heel that supports the Achilles tendon, as well as (typically) a round toe box,” she says. “The lace-up style also allows you to control the pressure as your foot swells throughout the day, so you can always re-lace and loosen up as needed.” Plus, there’s the added bonus that Oxfords are often made with soft, flexible suede, which Dr. Haller loves for those with prominent bones like bunions or misalignment.
2. Combat Boots
Just like Oxfords, lace-up combat boots allow you to control just how snug they fit. She explains, “Combat boots are not only cute, but also really great for ankle and foot stability. Go for a lug sole, which has excellent traction on slick leaf-covered surfaces.” Another perk Dr. Haller loves? “You get the added benefit of a little toning action in the thighs and calves due to their heavier weight, so your legs actually get stronger the more you wear them.”
While ballet flats might seem comfy, they usually aren’t the best when it comes to support. If you want to wear flats, Dr. Haller suggests going for a fall-appropriate loafer with at least ¼-inch heel to help support the natural arch of the foot and prevent Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. She advises, “Try twisting your shoe in a wringing motion—the more it twists, the worse it is for the foot. You want your flats to be sturdy enough that they don’t easily collapse in on themselves.”
4. Western Boots
Western boots have already been everywhere this fall, and thankfully, they’re high on Dr. Haller’s list of recommendations. She suggests looking for a rounded toe as opposed to a pointed toe. But if you need the chic almond toe boots, she says, “get a custom pair of orthotics from your podiatrist to help prevent the foot from shifting forward inside the boot while walking, which can cause toe crowding, blisters and ingrown toenails.”
5. Block Heel Boots
“I personally adore block heels, just make sure they’re not mules,” says Dr. Haller. Why? In general, a shoe that encloses your whole foot has more stability and prevents the heel from slipping and potentially causing an ankle sprain. Dr. Haller adds, “A block heel also helps disperse weight more evenly over the back of the foot as opposed to a thinner stiletto heel, which can add stress to the Achilles tendon and provide an unstable surface, which can lead to ankle rolling.”
The One to Avoid: UGG Boots
Sadly, our favorite dog walking shoes are at the very bottom of the list (can’t say we didn’t see this coming). Though the slipper-like boots are warm and cozy, they’re definitely not ideal from a foot health perspective. Dr. Haller explains, “Just don’t wear UGGs. They have zero arch support and tend to make your feet sweat, which leads to fungus (on both the nails and skin).” Yikes, point taken, doc.