Marilyn Monroe once famously said, “Give the girl the right shoe and she can conquer the world.” I hardly think this is disputable. From time immortal, women have had seemingly unnatural relationships with their shoes. But most of the time, when we speak of these obsessions, high heels come to mind. Unfortunately, heels have their limitations. They make our legs look fabulous, but by the end of the day, the agonized looks on our faces might scare away all comers no matter how fab our gams look. Let’s face it! We need our flats. Six-inch stilettos may be just the thing in the nightclub, but not so much for the supermarket (although I have never seen Beyonce at Ralph’s.) But, that’s okay. There are some really cute and cheap flats right? Ballet flats, flip-flops, jelly shoes and sandals are really fashionable for that sexy comfortable Sunday afternoon look. In fact, even Victoria Beckham, who once said,”I can’t concentrate in heels”, was spotted wearing brogues at the start of the summer. So, it’s a win-win right? Comfort and fashion. Wrong!
According to Dr. Nichola Dunne, director of Douglas Orthotics, “People think that they are doing the right thing by wearing flats, but they don’t realize how much damage they can cause.” Although they may be better for our balance, flats have no arch support, fastening straps or shock absorbing materials. They can cause friction to the heel , Achilles tendon, and toes that can lead to blisters and callouses, and, commonly cause flat feet. In addition, the damage may not stop may not stop at the ankle Back, hip and knee pain are often attributed to wearing flats.
You may have heard about this on late night infomercials. Plantar fascitis is the swelling of the tissue that runs between the heel and the foot. It can be caused by weight gain or, you guessed it, unsupportive footwear. The HSE estimates that this condition affects one-tenth of the population. Says Dunne,”Each September, every second person who comes into the clinic has plantar fascists after spending the summer in sandals or flip flops.” (Are you regretting all those sandals sitting in your closet waiting to be worn?)
What Can You Do?
Buy your shoes in the afternoon. Your feet may be a little swollen from daily activity and will give you a more accurate expectation of how your shoes will fit on a daily basis. Stretch calf muscles daily to avoid tendonitis and try rolling a ball under your foot to relieve pain. And as for choosing our shoes, is there any middle ground? Should we ship out all our sandals to the Salvation Army, or is that too cruel? Chris McCarthy ,manager of Foot Solutions says, ” Not all flats are bad. A good shoe should have a cushioned base and be shaped to support the arches….The heel counter…behind your heels , needs to be solid and not tilt in or out. Proper shoes will support the heel bone to keep the foot flat and prevent pain.” And NO FLIP FLOPS!! According to the experts, these are an orthopedic disaster. They can cause pain, permanent damage to your toes, screw up your posture, slow you down, expose your feet to infection and could be made of toxic materials. In other words, if you are looking forward to walking comfortably for the rest of your life, avoid these at all costs.
So go forth, choose wisely and have fun conquering the world!