"Slipping on a pair of thongs after a day in heels may not be such a good idea, writes Howard Schneider.
It was near the end of the Sex And The City film, after the starlets had worn high heels in the snow, at the pool, to the beach 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 an appearance (flats worn by an office intern).
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.
Sex And The City coincided with what became the Year of Evil Shoes at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting, where delegates discussed how different types of footwear - thongs and high heels - might adversely influence fitness.
There is a long trail of evidence on the problems caused by high heels, including bunions, hammertoe, shortening of the Achilles tendon and stress fractures.
To that list, the 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 towards the toe. How does that affect the rest of the foot and lower body? Would you want to be in a plane that was landing nose first?
Thongs also came under scrutiny, with new 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 researcher Justin Shroyer says the departure point for his study was that people wearing thongs for extended periods experience lower-leg pain. His research does not show what might cause that but it does suggest that walking on a centimetre of moulded plastic might not be the best idea.
"Anything that deviates from normal and you do it for a prolonged period of time, it may cause problems," Shroyer says. After all, fitness is not just about the gym. We worry about office ergonomics for good reason: small stresses can compound into major problems. Why not pay the same attention to what's on our feet?" (Continued via theage.com.au) [Ergonomics Resources]