The Chunky Trainer Trend Could Cause This Painful Health Issue, Experts Say

by Emily Dixon

If, like me, you've been pining over the Balenciaga Triple S trainers since 2017 (or perhaps the Acne Manhattan trainers, or the Balenciaga Tracks, or another beautiful and entirely unaffordable model), you might take some small comfort in the following news: the chunky trainer trend could be bad for your feet, according to some experts. While they might seem like one of the more forgiving footwear trends of recent years (my blisters and I are glaring at you, toe loop sandals), hidden risk lurks within: as the Guardian reports, a thick sole typically equals a heavy sole, which can lead to some major podiatric problems.

William Joyce, a podiatrist at London's City Chiropody and Podiatry, told the newspaper, "Thick-soled trainers are heavier. This can give rise to pain up the front of the lower leg, known as shin splints." He explained, "This is because the extra weight can increase the demand on the muscles on the front of the shin."

"Shin splints," you can probably derive from the name, means pain in the shinbone or tibia, as the Mayo Clinic explains. Common symptoms include "tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg"; the pain might initially subside after you stop exercising (or, if it's chunky trainer-related, just walking), but can eventually become constant. It can also develop into a "a stress reaction or stress fracture," the Mayo Clinic says. Alarming!

The issue, according to the Mayo Clinic, is commonly experienced by "runners, dancers, and military recruits" — an intense group to stumble into in pursuit of the perfect trainer.

Of course, chunky trainers aren't the only style to pose something of a health risk. Sock trainers, another recent trend, can also be problematic: as podiatrist Dr. Miguel Cunha of Gotham Footcare explained to Who What Wear, "While they may feel comfortable snugging the top of your foot, they’re not advisable shoes because they provide no support to the top and outside of your foot, which can easily lead to an ankle sprain." Truly, is no trainer safe?!

That doesn't mean we should all make a hasty return to the original foot ravager: the high heel, still more vicious than any trainer out there. Andrew Gladstone, founder of City Chiropody and Podiatry, told the Guardian, "High heels are generally worse than thick-soled trainers. Tight, narrow toe areas lead to corn formation, increased pressure on toes and joints, toenail problems, while thin, hard, leather-soled shoes can cause problems with the ball of the foot — corns, damaged metatarsal joints and general foot fatigue."

Listen: as someone with a minimum of four blisters at any one time, I'm not one to insist you forego all the beauty footwear has to offer in the name of a perfectly cushioned, correctly supported pain-free foot (or leg, or ankle). But again, if you share my searing envy of those whose budgets allow for Balenciaga? Tell yourself you're doing it for your delightfully splint-free shins.