People wear shoes for protection, fashion, athletic performance and comfort. The use of shoes is common across many cultures, though some indigenous tribes don't use footwear. Shoe use is particularly limited in beach cultures.
Protection of the foot is the primary reason people use footwear. Shoes can protect the foot from dangerous objects on the ground, such as glass or metal objects, as well as sharp rocks or hot surfaces. Some boots protect the feet from cold, while others keep them dry. Additionally, hookworms, a leading cause of disease in developing countries, enter the body through the foot, usually when a person steps in infected dirt. The use of shoes is the best way to prevent infection by hookworms. Shoes also protect the foot by providing stability. Sturdy shoes support the ankle joint and help prevent sprains and breaks. This is especially true during physical activities such as hiking or basketball. Shoes designed for these activities have high sides and a stiff construction to support the foot during movement.
Shoes specifically designed for certain sports offer the wearer an advantage. Cleats allow football and baseball players to move more easily on grass fields. Flat-bottomed sneakers help skateboarders with balance and tricks. Light, cushioned shoes allow runners to run farther faster.