Those fancy flip-flops might be hurting your feet.By Deborah Wilburn
Spring is here, and so are chic ballet flats, flip-flops, and sky-high platform sandals. They're comfortable shoes, and trendy, too, but are they good for your feet?
Not so much, says Dawn Olsen Figlo, MD, a certified foot surgeon in New York City. Even though many women think flats are a foot-friendly alternative, "ballet slippers are the worst shoe anyone can wear," she says. "There's no support whatsoever and the ankle can turn in too much or turn out."
Does that rule out flip-flops, too? "It's not great to be in a super-flat shoe," says Figlo. "It overstretches the plantar fascia -- the tissue that covers the bottom of the foot -- and can cause plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of that tissue." In terms of flip-flops, "the cheap ones with a flimsy strap and no support throw your body off [balance]," she says. Your toes need to grip the shoe in order to keep it on, which strains your foot.
Her recommendation for footwear that won't hurt your feet? Anything with a heel no higher than 2 inches. "If you must wear heels, alternate them each day with a lower shoe with a little arch that provides support," says Figlo.
Trendy shoes that Figlo does like? Platforms. "You do lose some stability, but as far as the foot biomechanics go, they're not so bad because the front of the foot is lifted as well."
Shoes on her forever thumbs-down list? "Pointy-toed shoes are horrible," Figlo declares. Whether they're high-heeled or low, pointy-toed shoes cause toes to curl in, which leads to painful (and unattractive) bunions and hammertoes.
One final footwear tip: Spray your shoes daily with antifungal spray. "There's a high incidence of athlete's foot infections in the summer since you're sweating in your shoes and not wearing socks," Figlo says. "Fungus thrives in dark, moist environments. " And for the pedicure-obsessed: "Don't fool with the cuticle. It's the seal that protects the toes from fungus and bacteria. If you break that seal you expose your feet to toe nail fungus and other problems."
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