Last Updated on November 14, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Are TOMS good for your feet or do you need to be thinking about buying different shoes if you want to look after your foot health?
If you are anything like me you probably want to buy a pair of shoes that is comfortable, practical and stylish. The problem is that so many shoes initially feel ok but after wearing them for a while they start to hurt particularly if you have other foot problems.
Here are my thoughts on TOMS shoes and why they simply won’t suit everyone’s feet.
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Are TOMS Good Shoes?
Are Toms good for your feet and do they help with foot health?
The short answer is no. TOMS shoes do not meet the standards of shoes that would be recommended by podiatrists. They simply do not have the attributes that a “good shoe” needs to have.
Does that then make them terrible shoes? Well no it doesn’t because there are plenty of shoes out there that don’t make podiatrists lists of great shoes yet plenty of people wear them with no problems. For example, flip-flops, Doc Martens, Vans, Crocs and the list goes on.
The fact is that if you are young and don’t have any foot problems you can get away with wearing a pair of TOMS shoes and probably experience no problems at all. The issues tend to start when you have problems like flat feet, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and other foot issues that mean you need additional support and cushioning which TOMS shoes don’t have.
Without the right design features for foot health shoes that may be extremely comfortable for many people are going to cause problems for others. Sadly no one shoe design works for everyone.
So who can wear TOMS shoes and who is going to struggle when they wear them?
Are TOMS Good For Flat Feet?
Let’s start by talking about flat feet which is a problem that I suffer from.
Flat feet need arch support because when your feet don’t have it your foot will tend to roll inwards when you are walking around. If this happens for too long it starts to cause strain not just on your feet but on your ankles, knees, and hips as well.
Having good arch support causes foot pain and can lead to other foot problems like plantar fasciitis. This is also painful so it makes sense to buy shoes that are going to stop any possibility of injury and help support your foot structure.
A lack of arch support also impacts a shoe’s ability to provide shock absorption. If you don’t have enough cushioning or shock absorption you can get problems with wear and tear on the joints. Good arch support helps support this.
I’ve written a whole article discussing the lack of TOMS arch support which you can read. This gives you some ideas on how to alleviate foot pain by using orthotic inserts as you can see from my picture as a way of creating extra support so they become more wearable.
Toms Shoes and Plantar Fasciitis
Another common complaint about shoes that don’t have arch support is that you can end up with foot problems such as plantar fasciitis which I mentioned earlier.
I suffer from this heel pain when I don’t wear shoes or slippers with arch support in them and boy does that heel pain hurt when I try and stand and walk.
The simple fact is that without arch support the plantar fascia overstretches as the arch collapses and that causes inflammation and pain. Plus you are putting more impact on your heels when you walk.
By wearing a pair of TOMS shoes regularly without insoles or orthotics to support your arch you are creating problems with your foot structure which becomes overloaded and overworked.
Personally, I believe that classic TOMS like their Alpargata’s should only be worn for short periods of time without good insoles or orthotics to protect your feet especially as you get older.
I would never wear mine for a long walk or when I am standing for long periods of time on hard surfaces because the support and cushioning are not enough for my feet.
If you want a similar style shoe to TOMS that has the arch support you need Sketchers Bobs Arch Fit Shoes are an alternative.
The Importance of Shoes With Cushioning
Are TOMS good for your feet? Well, I’ve talked about arch support and its importance in footwear what other things should a shoe have to make it suitable for good foot health?
Well, cushioning is another important factor. Cushioned insoles and soles are going to be particularly useful if you are walking on hard surfaces as they will protect your feet from any impact.
In the case of TOMS shoes they do have an EVA cushioned sole and cushioned insoles which do help with comfort but they are nowhere near as foot-friendly as many other brands.
You can see from my pictures that TOMS soles are relatively thin which doesn’t really give you as much cushioning as you really need plus the insoles are also relatively thin as well.
If you are wearing the shoes for short periods of time this is probably going to be fine especially if you don’t have problem feet. However, if you were thinking of wearing them for long walks or were planning to wear them all day when you are on your feet I would find a different type of shoe.
TOMS Medium Width Shoes are Narrow
It is also worth noting that regular TOMS shoes are not really made for people who have wide feet.
The standard or regular designs are described as medium width but the reality is they are on the small size. The front section of their canvas shoes also tends to narrow towards the toe box.
If you want shoes with a little more room you are either going to have to size up or see if you can find their wider-width designs which are a little more roomy.
Wearing too narrow shoes can cause all kinds of foot problems so if you are finding that they pinch or hurt think about buying a different shoe instead.
What About Shoe Traction?
I’m going to mention shoe traction, especially in classic TOMS because this is a factor in the stability and safety of your footwear.
Good traction on your shoe soles helps when you are walking and allows you to wander over more difficult terrain if you need to. TOMS shoes don’t provide what I would call good traction on their classic canvas material shoes.
This can be a problem but only if you choose to wear them in places where they weren’t designed to be worn or in bad weather.
Generally, their lack of tread isn’t that much of a problem as TOMS are primarily designed as summer shoes which are worn for everyday use such as running errands, driving and so on. The problem starts when people think that they can wear TOMS everywhere and in all weathers.
The fact is if it is wet the soles of these shoes get slippery really fast which can cause you to fall over. I never wear mine when it is wet for that reason and I’m also cautious about using them on shiny floors in places like malls.
It should therefore go without saying that wearing them on uneven surfaces is also not a great idea as they are not stable enough to perform well if you are thinking about hiking in them.
Shoe traction is super important especially if you already have foot pain or have other issues that mean you need shoes you can trust. A pair of TOMS is not going to give you the peace of mind you need to prevent you from twisting your ankle, slipping or falling in certain conditions so think carefully if they work for you before you buy them.
Are TOMS Comfortable for Walking?
Now that you are aware of some of the limitations of TOMS shoes then you might ask are they comfortable enough to walk in?
I think the answer to that is it very much depends on your foot health currently and whether you are going to add any support to them first before wearing them.
My sister-in-law loves them and finds them super comfortable to wear and can happily walk around in them all day without a problem.
I however find that they are fine with an orthotic for short walks and doing errands but if I want to do anything more substantial I change into my Sketchers or Vionics.
Breathability of Shoes and Foot Health
Are TOMS good for your feet if they have all these negatives going against them?
Well as with most shoes, there are positives as well. Certainly, the shoes are good for breathability which is great in the summer months as it means you are less likely to get sweaty feet.
Natural materials like cotton canvas which classic TOMS are made from make the uppers breathable. This means that your feet don’t get overly hot in them and sweat can escape more easily.
This is why my sister-in-law who lives in Adelaide Australia loves them. The temperatures over there get super hot in the summer by her traditional Alpargata shoes help to keep her feet cool.
I’m sure like me when you buy a pair of shoes you want them to be durable. Nobody wants to spend on named brand shoes and find that they don’t last very long. The problem is that TOMS shoes are not a great choice if you want longevity in your footwear.
Now I will say that TOMS are not by any means expensive which means you do get what you pay for. Whilst they are a big brand name their canvas uppers and thin soles just aren’t built to last.
You can see from my pictures that the soles are thin which means they are going to wear down relatively quickly. Plus as the sole flattens the canvas parts of the shoe hit the ground more causing significant wear and tear.
Plus dark dark-colored TOMS are known to fade quite rapidly with wear which obviously impacts their look. Using a shoe protector spray can help with minimizing stains and marks on the canvas. Avoiding wet weather and alternating your shoes can also help them stay looking good for longer.
If you get a full summer’s wear out of them you are doing well but don’t expect them to last longer than that.
When I talk about wearability I mean where can I wear TOMS and in what conditions?
I have found out quite rapidly that they have limited wearability. Here’s where I found they don’t work.
- In the Rain
- Long Walks
- Work (too casual)
- Slippery Surfaces
- The Beach (It could work but sand and sea is going to make them deteriorate rapidly)
- Places Where I Need to Stand Up For Any Significant Period (Concerts or Amusement Parks)
I could go on but you get the idea. There are so many other shoes that are far easier to war which would allow me more options.
So don’t think about buying TOMS if you want versatile footwear because that is not what you are going to get.
TOMS Lightweight Design
Another plus point for TOMS shoes is that they are lightweight. This makes them a more comfortable shoe because you don’t feel that you are dragging a dead weight around on the end of your feet.
Lightweight shoes stop your feet from feeling tired plus they are so much easier to wear, especially in the summer months when it is hot.
I know this is also useful for me because I have a hip problem and heavy shoes make it much harder for me to walk properly without feeling uncomfortable.
The Importance of Flexibility
Another plus point for TOMS shoes is that they do offer significant flexibility for shoes which you might not get in other shoe designs.
If you think about DOC Martens these tend to have a rigid thick sole that doesn’t bend or flex very well when you are walking. This restricts your natural foot movement and causes discomfort.
Flexible shoes like TOMS are made from softer materials which allows you to move more naturally which reduces strain on your feet and body.
As I mentioned before it is hard to find shoes that have everything especially when you are looking at fashion footwear.
The Shoes Get Smelly
Another hazard of wearing TOMS shoes in the summer is that they can start to smell. This is because people love to wear them barefoot because it is summer and of course, sweat from your feet will start to sink into the insoles and the uppers.
Even though I mentioned that one of their plus points was that they were breathable this isn’t going to stop the smell because inevitably some of that sweat will seep into the shoes.
Wearing them with no-show socks can help to solve part of that problem. Alternatively, use one of my favorite foot products of all time which is Carpe Anti-Perspirant Foot Lotion that stops sweat in its tracks.
If you want to know how to clean Smelly TOMS shoes head over to my article that tells you exactly what you can do to get rid of any bad smells.
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