This has been a very hot topic for the past couple of years so I figured why not throw my two cents in and clear the air. Shoes are indeed problematic for humans. Shoes are artificial stability, they dumb down our senses, they take away normal ankle ranges of motion (mobility), they make your foot a perfect incubator for toe fungus and they change our gate (how we walk). All these issues lead to a poor moving ankle joint which over time leads to knee, back, shoulder and possibly even elbow pain. Once one joint is disrupted it creates a chain reaction of problems throughout the human body, and it all starts with our feet.
Imagine doing your daily tasks (working, typing, lifting weights, dishes, etc) while wearing big thick gloves on your hands. I'll take a second while you imagine that! Thats exactly what we're doing to our feet. These thick sole shoes we wear with a 2 inch heel lift don't allow us to feel the earth, our feet are made to tell us about the environment that we're on at the moment. Is it hot, wet, cold, sticky, slippery or unsafe but with shoes our feet fail to tell our brain the proper information. This leads to a change in how we walk, run, squat and dead lift which are all killers to healthy joints.
Now Im not saying you shouldn't wear sneakers but I am telling you that you will be a lot better off if you are out of your shoes as much as possible. Allow your feet to take in information and transmit it to your brain. Allow your proprioceptors (the bodies senses) to do their job! Healthy feet need stimulus just like our muscles and brain, walking around barefoot as often as possible will allow this.
Try hitting up your local park and walk around barefoot, feel the grass between your toes and watch how differently you move. It will seem odd to you at first but give it a little while and watch the magic. You will actually stimulate your mind and body to move and think like its supposed to. The artificial heel lift that sneakers give us stop the ankle from moving into proper amounts of dorsi-flexion (pulling your toes up to your knee) which inhibits the way our muscles fire during squatting and dead lifting. The lack of dorsi-flexion puts added movement on to the knee joint (which is supposed to be stable) and it increases the sheer forces that the knee will take during simple daily movements. After the knee takes a beating for a while your hip flexors will get tight and tilt your hips anteriorly which can slowly cause you lower back pain and the chain reactions go on and on...
Everyone will swear that their shoe choice is the best, some people swear by minimalist type shoe-wear, others like high tops and some people love low tops but there isn't one right shoe for anyone. Wear what works for you but limit the amount of time that you are in your sneakers per day. Use them as little as possible, if you have any chance during the day take them off. This will let the body go back to the way its supposed to move overtime. You'd be surprised how many issues will clean themselves up once you treat your feet right.
Everyday I want you all to roll a golf ball on the bottom of your feet. Spend about a minute on each foot - You're Welcome!
The golf ball will release muscle fascia (fascia surrounds all our muscle bellies and can get tight over time just like muscles) on the bottoms of your feet - This can relieve shin splints, plantar fasciitis and increase blood flow to the foot, plus it feels amazing! I personally try and find a field once or twice a week and do Tempo Runs barefoot. Ever since I've been doing this I have no knee or back pain and I feel more receptive to how my body works. Try it...
A final note: Yes ladies heels are horrible for your body but men are suckers for heels! :)