Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Worst foot forward, it's the Year of Evil Shoes

It was near the end of Sex and the City, after the stars had worn high heels in the snow, at the pool, to the beach, in the rain and, of course, to bed. It was after the one who got pregnant went jogging and we were not allowed to see what she was wearing on her feet, and after the only visible shoes I remember spotting other than high heels had made their appearance (flats worn by an office intern and sneakers worn by two guys throwing rose petals during a photo shoot). That's when I started wondering: What are their feet going to look like in another 10 years, after being crammed down a drainpipe? Because those women look as if they've been stuck in heels since before they could walk, their little bronzed baby spikes forgotten in some horrible box of memories.

As it so happens, SATC coincided with what became the Year of Evil Shoes at the American College of Sports Medicine's recent annual meeting. There, two research studies discussed how different types of footwear — flip-flops and high heels — might adversely influence fitness.

An altered gait

There is a long trail of evidence on the problems caused by high heels, including bunions, deformities such as hammertoe, a shortening of the Achilles tendon and stress fractures. There are several other problems listed on the Mayo Clinic's Web site.

To that list, the sports medicine conference added a new worry, when Louisiana Tech University researchers noted that as people in high heels walk down stairs, the dynamics of their gait shift markedly from how they would descend barefoot or in low-heeled shoes:

Force is transferred away from the heel (which normally carries the weight of the stride but in this case has little to balance on) and toward the toe.

How does that affect the rest of the foot and lower body? Would you want to be in an airplane that was landing nose first?

Flip-flops also came under scrutiny, with research showing that they, too, alter the way people walk: People shorten and slow their stride and scrunch their toes in a way that increases the angle of the ankle as the foot goes through its gait.

Auburn University doctoral student Justin Shroyer said the departure point for his study was the sense that people wearing flip-flops for extended periods — to work, for example — experience lower leg pain. His research does not show what might cause that, but he said, "Anything that deviates from normal and you do it for a prolonged period of time, it may cause problems."

Like being barefoot

Since the invention in the late 1950s of what came to be known as the Earth Shoe, a number of footwear designs have come along claiming to mimic the state of nature: walking barefoot.

The Earth Shoe did it with a "negative heel" that gave wearers a slightly backward tilt and, according to the company's claims, made wearers burn more calories and engage more muscle in standing and walking.

More recently, Masai Barefoot Technology and Chung Shi have made similar claims for footwear that uses rounded soles to create a slight imbalance and force a different sort of stride that, reportedly, tones muscles, eases pressure on joints and improves balance.

Studies of the Masai products show that they do increase muscle activation.

"It definitely helps the feet if there are certain weaknesses," Stephen Paulseth, a physical therapist in Los Angeles and head of the American Physical Therapy Association's foot and ankle group, said of the Masais and similar shoes.

Worst foot forward, it's the Year of Evil Shoes 07/07/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2008 8:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida woman weighing 325 pounds charged with killing girl by sitting on her

    Crime

    PENSACOLA — A 325-pound (150-kilogram) Florida woman is charged with killing her 9-year-old cousin by sitting on the child as punishment.

    This Oct. 14, 2017 photo made available by the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, Fla., shows Veronica Green Posey under arrest. Posey is charged with killing her 9-year-old cousin by sitting on the child as punishment. Posey, who weighs 325 pounds, first punished the girl with a ruler and metal pipe before sitting on her for at least 10 minutes. [Escambia County Sheriff's Office via AP]
  2. Girl, 8, got on 'tippy toes' to peer over cruise ship railing, then fell to her death

    Accidents

    MIAMI — A family cruise to paradise turned into a nightmare on Saturday, when an 8-year-old tumbled over the inner railings of a ship and fell to her death.

    Friends and family mourn Zion Smith, the 8-year-old girl who fell to her death aboard a Carnival cruise in Miami this weekend. [Image from Facebook]
  3. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Looking back at what went wrong

    Bucs

    In his latest Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman says Monday brought good news relating to Jameis Winston's shoulder injury.

    A frustrated Mike Evans sits on the bench during the second half of the Bucs' loss to the Cardinals Sunday in Arizona. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Syrian commander says Raqqa has been captured from militants

    World

    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed Syrian forces liberated the city of Raqqa on Tuesday from Islamic State militants, a senior commander said, in a major defeat for the collapsing extremist group that had proclaimed it to be the capital of its "caliphate."

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]
  5. Drug czar nominee Marino withdraws name amid report he weakened DEA

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his nominee to be the nation's drug czar is withdrawing from consideration for the job.

    U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., left, sponsored the law that weakened the DEA's enforcement abilities. Seen with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., in 2015, Marino is nominated to be the nation's drug czar. [Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg]