Discovery News: High heels cause long-term damage.
In a study published last month in the Journal of Experimental Biology, scientists in the United Kingdom found that women who wore high heels five times a week for two years had calf muscles that were 13 percent shorter and Achilles tendons that were substantially stiffer and thicker than those of women who wore flat shoes. The distance the high-heel wearers could flex their feet up and down was also drastically reduced.
Ouch. I wear heels maybe once a week and it takes me a day to get back to normal. At home I'm usually barefoot, we run a shoe-free house.
In the meantime, researchers are narrowing in on what makes for a perfect shoe. In a study published earlier this year in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, rheumatologist Naija Shakoor of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and colleagues found that walking barefoot or wearing flat, flexible shoes were best for knee joints. In the study, flip-flops and basic sneakers put lower loads on the knees than did clogs or running shoes with added stability. She also recommends arch support.
My office is on a "jeans casual" week, so shoes are sneakers, my chocolate brown Converse All Stars with the baby pink laces, and a beloved pair of velcro strap Tevas, just about perfect for me. Karate is all barefoot, there's a sign asking you to take off shoes before going on the mats.