Rethinking Healthcare

Cruel shoes really are

Posting in Technology

The real bottom line is fancy shoes are bad for you. If you must wear them, do so sparingly. Once you've got the guy hooked, switch to flats.

Those of us with a touch of gray remember when Steve Martin was just a comic, and one of his best bits was The Cruel Shoes. (Picture from CBS News.)

Publishing the bit as part of a collection of short stories hastened Martin's evolution to acting, writing and directing.

Turns out he was also practicing medicine. My wife laughed along with everyone else, but she also took the lesson. She was among the first to wear sneakers to work, and she still doesn't own any high heels. Her feet don't hurt, either.

It turns out that high heels, pumps, and other shoes used mainly to attract men (they make calves look lovelier and bring a woman's height up to that of her date) carry a cruel legacy.

An examination by the Institute of Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife, published in Arthritis Care & Research, shows that women who wore fancy shoes when young wound up with a lot more foot pain in later life, especially in the heel.

Time doesn't wound all heels, just those which spent their youths in the air.

About 64% of women who regularly wore high heels, pumps, or sandals while young had this kind of pain by age 65, wrote Anna Dufour and her colleagues. They interviewed 3,300 people who were members of the famous Framingham Study.

The best shoes, according to the study, were sneakers, with work boots and most office shoes rated as just average.

A CBS News report on the study had all sorts of advice on shoe-buying, like buying later in the day, standing when your shoe size is taken, and knowing that your feet grow as you age. (I was once a 10 1/2. I'm now a 12.)

The real bottom line is simple. Fancy shoes are bad for you. If you must wear them, do so sparingly. Once you've got the guy hooked, switch to flats. Get shoes with good padding, shoes you can run in. You'll need them to chase rug rats soon enough.

Getting a lot of cruel shoes is no substitute for having a pair or two that actually work. When the grandchildren come to visit you'll be glad for that.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure