The Worst Shoes Women Can Wear

Maybe we should all just go barefoot.

Finding the perfect pair of shoes is a quest for many women. Sexy is always good. Stylish is essential. Comfortable is wonderful, but not always thought to be necessary. We are ruining our feet. Just ask podiatrists who are probably able to send their children to the nation's most expensive colleges thanks to their brisk business repairing so many feet wounded by high-heels.

"The current trend in fashion is very bad for women's feet," Dr. Lloyd Smith told New York Times reporter Lorraine Kreahling. Smith is president of the American Podiatric Medical Association. "Super high heels with very narrow toes create problems and exacerbate existing conditions."

Why are high heels the bad boys of the shoe world? Dr. Tzvi Bar-David, a doctor of podiatric medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, explained the physics to the New York Times: High heels lift your foot out of its natural position, which in turn shortens the Achilles' tendon. They also pitch the weight of your body forward so it's disproportionately resting on the ball of your foot. That upsets the stabilizing mechanics of the foot. "High heels have a narrow area of contact and they point the toes downward, which puts the foot in an internally rotated position and makes their wearer more prone to spraining an ankle," Dr. Bar-David explained.

So if super high heels are bad for our feet (Duh! We knew that!), then what can we wear? Smith offers his shoe dos and don'ts to the Times:

  • Round-toed shoes with five- or six-inch heels may be fashionable, but they aren't any better than the super high heels.
  • Flip-flops, the antithesis of high heels, must be great for our feet, right? Wrong. Smith calls them "close to horrible for the feet." He says, "They are totally flat, soft and squishy, and offer no support and no protection. They can also catch on things and expose nearly naked feet to being stepped on.
  • Athletic shoes, if not properly fitted, can even lead to problems that require medical intervention.
  • Tight dress shoes can put so much pressure on nerves that they can be damaged, which can eventually lead to arthritis.

So what CAN you wear on your feet? The New York Times reports: "Medical experts agree the best shoes for healthy feet mimic the foot's natural shape, while offering support in the arch and a flexible sole underneath the toes, the way most athletic shoes do."

Smith advises you to look for the following when purchasing shoes:

  • Relatively flat sole.
  • The heel should fit snugly into the shoe.
  • There should be lots of room in the toe box for your tootsies.
  • The uppers should be constructed of soft materials.
  • The shoe should have laces that make it adjustable.

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