Special Reports

Wearing boots may lead to foot trouble

Thursday, February 21, 2013

During winter time many women pull on the boots and wear them till spring. But some foot doctors say that's leading to trouble.

From First Lady Michelle Obama, to the streets of Center City, gals are stepping out in boots.

10 hours a day, real estate agent Susie Irvine is on the go and no matter what the weather, she says she's got to look good.

"I always have to wear fashionable shoes or boots, and I choose boots," Susie said.

In December she switched to high heels for a day and regretted it.

"Getting out of my car, showing a house, and I slipped and my ankle twisted," Susie said.

Dr. Eric Ricefield says Susie isn't the only boot fanatic in his office this winter with foot and leg injuries.

"We've had sprains, strains, and ligament tears, and we've even had fractures," Ricefield said.

Boots are winter favorites because they're warm and feel supportive, but Dr. Ricefield says therein lies the problem.

Dr. Ricefield says the shaft of most boots support the ankle so well that if they are worn day after day, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments can weaken, so in regular shoes, your feet may be unstable.

"People who are wearing high heeled shoes can even be more unstable," Ricefield said.

Dr. Ricefield says some thigh-high boots pose another problem - they can press on a nerve alongside the knee.

He says it's like hitting the funny bone on your elbow.

"Numbness, tingling, burning, weakness," Dr. Ricefield said.

To avoid the pinch make sure you can fit a thumb or two fingers between the boot and your leg.

For a stronger, more stable walk, the doctor says boots shouldn't be worn all day, every day.

"No more than eight hours in a given day and no more than three days, alternated days, in a given week," Ricefield said.

He also recommends exercises that stretch feet and make them more flexible. For example, use your feet to outline the alphabet.

Susie now switches up her boots, high heels, and flatter shoes more often, and she does the foot exercises every day. Slowly, the pain and damage from the ankle sprain have gone away.

Oh, and about the house she was trying to sell when she fell?

"I think they felt so sorry for me that they actually ended up buying the house," Susie said with a laugh.

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