Fancy footwork: The price you pay for red-hot heels, stylin#039; stilettos and perfectly polished pumps

by Beacon Staff • September 20, 2006

Scattered among the comfy and casual flip-flops and flats stepping through the streets of Boston are high-heeled boots and sexy stiletto sandals.,It's September again and time for the start of a new school year. It's a new season, and a whole lot of new lines of fall footwear are available for feet needing a touch of fancy.

Scattered among the comfy and casual flip-flops and flats stepping through the streets of Boston are high-heeled boots and sexy stiletto sandals.

But before you pop your perfectly pedicured toes into a pair of Steve Madden's newest peep-toe pumps, you may want to consider some of the potential health hazards posed by favorite footwear.

A recent report released by the Mayo Clinic, the Minneapolis-based healthcare center, explains that when walking in heels, "your foot slides forward in your shoe, redistributing your weight, creating unnatural pressure points, and throwing your body's natural alignment out of whack."

Dr. William Olsen, a podiatrist and contributor to WebMD.com, warns that wearing too-high heels can cause long-term problems for your feet.

Olsen recommends not wearing heels every day and cites wearing flats as a way to steer clear of many podiatric problems such as bunions, toe deformities (including hammertoe), and trapped nerves.

John Casey, also with WebMD, adds ingrown toenails, neuromas, and calluses to the list of possible harmful effects of high heeled shoes.

Casey claims that shoes with heels higher than two-and-a-half inches will likely be the most damaging.

Meg Cook, a freshman writing, literature and publishing major, does not incorporate these hazardous heels into her everyday wardrobe.

"I actually didn't even bring any heels to college with me," she said. "I usually only wear them when I feel like getting all dressed up."

High-heeled shoes may give a professional, feminine image, but some find that they cannot wear them at all, even for a small length of time.

"I never wear them," said freshman writing, literature and publishing major Kelly Johnson. "I have bad ankles already, and I tend to fall off of them."

Johnson opts instead for more comfortable and practical sneakers, flat shoes and sandals.

Cook agrees that comfort is a major factor in choosing her footwear.

"I just don't wear uncomfortable shoes," she said. "But a lot of high heels don't really bother me."

Others agree.

"I don't wear heels a lot because they do hurt after awhile," said freshman writing, literature and publishing major Kayleigh Holt. "But I am also aware of the problems they cause, and that's also part of the reason I don't wear them."

While Holt prefers comfort to style, sophomore TV/video major Hannah Elder has the opposite preference.

"I usually buy shoes based on looks," she said. "But it's a plus if they're comfortable." Elder said that she generally wears heels about once a week, normally on special occasions.

Just because they feel good when you put them on does not mean shoes will remain so sweet on your feet.

"No heels are really that comfortable after, like, four hours anyway," Elder advised.

Flip-flops can be a casual but cute alternative, while flats and low-heeled boots can be a comfortable and stylish choice as well.

But if you have to bring sexy back by wearing shoes that make you cringe in pain with every step, consider buying padded insoles or gel inserts for your shoes.

It will at least make getting your game on a little less painful.