Will common sense kill the fashion shoe?

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sore_feetWell lets hope not!

I’ve always known that most fashion shoes are bad for your feet. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work that out. But I was slightly disheartened when I found this article on ninemsn.com.au today.

Apparently even thongs aren’t that great. Well actually I probably already knew that, I mean they don’t really offer any support. But damn it they’re comfy!

Here’s what you didn’t want to know about all your beautiful shoes!

“Posh Spice totters on sky-high heels, beset by painful bunions and bemoaning her “granny feet”. Sarah Jessica Parker tore tendons in her foot after a sprint in her trademark stilettos. But stilettos shouldn’t cop all the blame – wedges, platforms, thongs and even ballet flats can leave you with unhappy feet.

Alannah Andrews, executive officer of the Australian Podiatry Association (Vic.), loves a sexy stiletto as much as the next gal, but she advises wearing them in moderation.

“Sure, go and buy your good shoes, but wear them on occasion – don’t wear them all the time. An occasional wear won’t cause a problem – constant wear does,” she explains. “Every bit of footwear you have in the cupboard is fine for a purpose, but thongs weren’t ever designed for the workplace, and 12cm stilettos weren’t designed to go walking in.

“Try to wear a variety of shoes every week. You might be wearing a really bad pair today, but if you wear a sensible pair tomorrow, your body is going to thank you for that.”

So just what dangers lurk in that fashionable pair of shoes?

shoes_heelsStilettos and other high heels
The most obvious hazard is falling over and damaging your ankles, but high heels bring other perils, too.

Joint damage: When you wear high heels most of your weight is on the ball of your foot. “That’s not the way the foot is designed to work,” Alannah points out. The joints across the front of your foot are put under too much pressure, causing them damage and pain. Your lower back also suffers from your pelvis being thrust forward.

Bunions: High heels don’t actually cause a bunion – a painful bony bump at the base of your big toe (experts suspect your genes play a part) – but the extra pressures placed on that toe joint when you wear heels will make the problem a lot worse.

Compression problems: If you squish your foot into a shoe that’s too narrow, as well as corns and calluses, you’re inviting a thickening of nerve tissue called a neuroma. The result? A burning pain in the ball of your foot and stinging or numbness in your toes. Having your toes constantly pushed against the front of the shoe can also see nail fungus and ingrown toenails develop.

Deformities: Wear your high heels every day for years, and your calf muscle and your Achilles tendon (which connects the calf muscle to your heel bone) will shorten. You’ll find it uncomfortable to walk in flat shoes or bare feet. You’ll need to see a podiatrist or physio to reshape the soft tissue.

shoes_wedgesWedges and platform shoes
Ankle damage: Wedges are just as unstable as stilettos, says Alannah. “Because of the tapering, wedges aren’t really a stable shoe. Some people use them as a shoe to walk in when really they’re a shoe for getting out of the car and going to dinner in.

“There isn’t much support built into the shoe to keep the foot directly on the platform. Most of the time you hear that people’s feet have slipped sideways and they have actually toppled over, fallen off the platform and done quite nasty ankle injuries.”

You’ll have similar problems if you slip off 1970s-style platform shoes.

No support: Thongs provide absolutely no support or protection for your foot. And if you wear thongs every day, the lack of arch support can eventually lead to plantar fasciitis – an inflammation of the tissue along the bottom of your foot that connects your heel bone to your toes. The main symptom is a stabbing pain in your heel first thing in the morning or after sitting or standing for long periods.

As well, thongs are tiring to walk in, as most people tend to grip with their toes. “You’re using the small muscles in your foot to try to keep them on, rather than the big muscles,” says Alannah. “It generally makes your feet tired.”

Skin problems: Callused, split and cracked heels are another unlovely side to wearing thongs.

Ballet flats
No support: Like thongs, ballet flats offer no arch support. “They’re not a good work shoe,” says Alannah. “Your foot can roll around a lot because the shoe doesn’t have a lot of structure, so you can have problems with plantar fasciitis.”

Compression problems: Although ballet flats don’t have pointy toes, there can still be problems if the shoe is too small for your foot. “They have to be firm to stay on, so if your foot swells during the day the shoe actually gets tighter,” Alannah explains.

The “sensible” shoe
For the record, the most “sensible” shoe fits your foot’s natural shape, allowing it to work normally as you walk. Think of the old-fashioned school shoe or nurse’s shoe with a broad rounded toe, laces or Velcro so your foot doesn’t slide about, and a broad, 2cm-thick heel to cushion your foot.

And remember, any shoe you buy should be comfortable as soon as you try it on – it shouldn’t need “wearing in”.”

So what is your opinion? How often do you wear ‘fashion shoes’? Do you ever think about the damage you’re doing to your feet?

1 Comment
  • Kerryn
    September 12, 2009

    I have fallen victim to a gorgeous pair of shoes, numerous times.

    No matter how good the shoes – the blisters the next day are always worse!

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