This little piggy was hideously mangled

We knew heels were bad. But are all shoes ruining our feet?


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Kate Harding
May 6, 2008 12:15AM (UTC)

This weekend, I was reading a New York magazine article about how shoes are ruining human feet. Yep, all shoes, even the kind designed to support your arches, cushion your heels, and get your achilles tendons a cocktail. So it goes without saying that high heels are killers:

"If you wear high heels for a long time, your tendons shorten -- and then it's only comfortable for you to wear high heels. One saleswoman I spoke to at a running-shoe store described how, each summer, the store is flooded with young women complaining of a painful tingling in the soles of their feet -- what she calls "flip-flop-itis," which is the result of women's suddenly switching from heeled winter boots to summer flip-flops."

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But then I read this article this morning, which tells me that flat shoes can "strain the achilles tendon that runs from the back of the heel, and also the calf muscles in the back of the leg," and increase one's risk of plantar fasciitis. For optimum foot health, this article says, you should alternate between high and low shoes and do some calf stretches before going out in a pair of flats.

OK, so either high heels are going to painfully shorten my tendons, or they're necessary for keeping those tendons from painfully overextending. And the solution is either to go barefoot as often as possible (the New York article's suggestion) or to wear supportive shoes of varying heights. Never mind, I'm taking a nap.


Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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