Street Shoe Smarts

March 18, 2010

Could your Ugg-style boots be hurting your feet? British doctors are saying yes. According to articles published this week in The Telegraph and The Daily Mail, doctors at the British College of Osteopathic Medicine are crediting this type of footwear with causing an outbreak of foot, knee, hip and back problems among young women.

These reports are a great reminder of how important it is for dancers to wear supportive street shoes to keep their bodies primed for the studio. While the aches, pains and injuries the doctors describe would be an inconvenience for any woman, they would be downright devastating for a dancer.

“Ugg[-style boots] are the winter version of the flip flop—they lack support,” Dr. Donald J. Rose, attending orthopaedic surgeon and director of the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases in NYC, tells DS. “We have seen [dancers with] injuries like plantar fascitis and tendonitis of the ankle or big toe that are at least exacerbated, if not caused, by these kinds of shoes.”

Rose says the injuries he mentioned can generally be treated with physical therapy, but it might be best to avoid damage all together by wearing better shoes! He says a well-fitting athletic sneaker with arch support and laces is an ideal street shoe for a dancer. However, Rose recommends that style-conscious dancers who insist on wearing less-supportive shoes try inserting over-the-counter arch supports to give their feet a break.