Shoes in the News-Does Fashion Trump Safety?

The safety and comfort level of a popular unstructured boot has recently been in the news.  These slipper-like boots, originally from Australia but copied by many manufacturers, have become the darling of celebrities and the fashion “must have” for women and girls all over the globe.   Podiatrists (foot doctors) have  been issuing warnings about these furry boots, especially if worn for extended periods of time.   One of the most common orthopedic complaints is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. This condition occurs when the long fibrous plantar fascia ligament along the bottom of the foot develops tears in the tissue resulting in pain and inflammation. Its symptoms include burning, stabbing, or aching pain in the heel of the foot. Most sufferers will be able to feel it in the morning because the fascia ligament tightens up during the night while we sleep, causing pain to diminish. However, when we climb out of bed and place pressure on the ligament, it becomes taut and pain is particularly acute. The pain may decrease when the tissue warms up but it can return with increased activity during the day.

Plantar fasciitis can occur for a variety of reasons.  Among the most common is an overload of physical activity or exercise.  Another common cause of plantar fasciitis is arthritis. Certain types of arthritis can cause inflammation to develop in tendons, resulting in plantar fasciitis. This cause is particularly common among elderly patients. Diabetes is also a factor that can contribute to further heel pain and damage, particularly among the elderly.

Among the most popular causes that contribute to plantar fasciitis is wearing incorrect shoes. In many cases, shoes either do not fit properly, or provide inadequate support or cushioning. While walking or exercising in improper shoes, weight distribution becomes impaired, and significantly stress can be added to the plantar fascia ligament.   The boots mentioned in this blog have little support and have been linked to an increase in plantar fasciitis.

No one  is suggesting that you throw your favorite boots away.  They are comfortable and warm,  but they simply do not provide sufficient  support for extended use.  If you can’t live without them and want to wear them daily, consider getting a custom-made orthotic foot mold to put in your boot, or use supportive insoles.    Women with flattened arches are even more prone to foot problems as a result of shoes with ill fitting shoes.