We all have different preferences when it comes to what we wear inside our homes, from the comfy clothes we throw on at the end of a long day, to the robe we choose to lounge around in on Saturday mornings. So, it’s no surprise that the idea of wearing shoes in the house might sound horrifying to some, especially those with a “no shoes inside” rule. But hear us out—can having a pair of house sneakers actually be a good thing for foot health and beyond?
Well, according to foot health experts, there are some pretty significant benefits to owning a pair of house shoes. “I strongly believe that all foot types, and types of people for that matter, benefit from wearing sneakers in the house as opposed to walking barefoot,” says podiatrist and podiatric surgeon Dana Canuso, DPM, founder of Dr. Canuso Skincare for Feet.
What exactly are house sneakers?
As the name implies, house shoes are those that are meant to be worn exclusively in the house. Unlike street shoes, which are meant to be worn outside to protect your feet—like work boots, running shoes, and rubber rain boots—house shoes should never cross the threshold to the outside.
And if you’re thinking to yourself, can’t you just wear your street shoes inside? Consider this: When you leave the house in whatever shoes you’ve decided to wear that day, those shoes will inevitably touch every surface you walk across. Your front lawn, your car mat, your office lobby, and yes, maybe even the bathroom inside of your local grocery store.
So, from a cleanliness perspective, wearing your street shoes in the house probably isn’t the best idea. But what about just going barefoot or wearing socks in the house? Unless you clean your floors thoroughly every night, your feet or socks are bound to come in contact with whatever dust, dirt, crumbs, or sharp things (Hi, Legos) have fallen onto your floor throughout the week.
This is where a pair of house sneakers can really shine. “House sneakers are really any comfortable walking shoe that is committed to only being worn inside,” explains Dr. Canuso. “Not only do they protect your feet from future structural damage, but they keep your feet safe from glass and any other harmful things that may be on your floors.”
Why are house sneakers good for foot health?
But what about the actual health benefits of wearing sneakers instead of, say, slippers around the house? As it turns out, house sneakers can also help prevent damage to our feet that we may not even realize is happening.
“For most people, sitting down at home is only one part of their routine,” Dr. Canuso says. “Whether cooking, cleaning, caring for loved ones, or simply moving from point A to point B, a significant amount of stress is placed on your feet at home that you may not even realize.” If we don’t adequately support our feet during these daily activities, our body eventually pays for them. “Over time, the arch on the bottom of our feet can ‘fall down’ if not supported and can lead to problems such as knee pain, hip pain, back pain, and plantar fasciitis,” she continues.
Dr. Canuso shares that one of the ways we can prevent this is by wearing a solid set of sneakers around the house. “Supporting your arches throughout these activities can not only prevent future problems from happening, but it can also help with other foot problems that may be occurring during the day while wearing other shoes at work,” she explains, like flats that don’t offer much support, or clogs that pinch your toes.
How to find the perfect pair of house sneakers
When it comes to shopping for house sneakers, it’s important to keep in mind that different shoes serve different purposes—and the primary purpose of an indoor shoe is to provide support. “When looking for an indoor sneaker, the focus should be more on the cushion, support, and breathability of the shoe rather than the ability to maintain changes in weather or terrain,” Dr. Canuso clarifies.
If it’s been a while since you’ve last measured your feet, have a sales associate help you measure your foot size, as this will help make sure that you’re getting the most accurately sized shoes. When you’re comparing your choices, try to find a pair of shoes that is sturdy in the upper portion and the heel, with good cushioning and flexibility throughout. When you find a pair of shoes that you like, make sure to try on both shoes to make sure that they fit all around. And finally, never buy a pair of shoes that you have to “break in”—shoes should always feel comfortable when you first buy them.
Oh, and once you’ve found your new pair of house sneakers for your foot health, don’t forget the one rule: never wear them outside. By making sure to keep your house shoes “indoor only,” you’ll have constant foot protection without having to worry about your tracking any germs across your floor (or couch).