Flats can be as harmful to your feet as high heels

Health Smart
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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- It is no secret high heels can wreak havoc on our feet. However, it may surprise you to know that other shoes that seem comfortable can be just as harmful to our foot health.

According to Dr. Christine Wright, a podiatrist with Cornerstone Health Care, thin, flat, unsupportive shoes can cause a painful condition called plantar fasciitis.

“The flat, flat shoes offer no support. Some of them, as I tell people, you might as well walk on cardboard all day,” said Dr. Wright.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common condition Dr. Wright treats.

“What plantar fasciitis is is an abnormal strain or stretch of the long ligament that runs on the bottom of the foot – from the heel to the bottom of the foot,” said Dr. Wright.

Holly Petroff is a Certified Medical Assistant with Cornerstone Health Care who has experienced plantar fasciitis.

“It was like a sharp pain. Almost felt like, when I would get up out of bed, a stone bruise on the bottom of my foot,” said Petroff.

According to Dr. Wright, shoes that provide some lift in the heel help to reduce the strain on the plantar fascia.

“Usually I’m recommending not a flat but something with a chunky heel for dress – nothing that we are going to fall out of, or off, and break our ankle. And for casual, wear a really high quality running shoe,” said Dr. Wright.

By wearing a slightly raised heel, the strain on the ligament is reduced, said Dr. Wright.

“When my feet are completely down in the heel, then yeah that’s when they start hurting the most,” said Maggie Efird from Greensboro. Cynthia Barker from Greensboro said, “The fatter heels and the wedges are just more comfortable for me.”

Although plantar fasciitis can be treated, it can always reoccur, said Dr. Wright. Once you have had plantar fasciitis, you are always more susceptible to developing it again, according to Dr. Wright.

In order to prevent it, Dr. Wright recommends wearing supportive shoes and doing stretching exercises every day. Dr. Wright recommends sitting up with your legs out in front of you and pulling your toes back to warm up the plantar fascia before getting out of bed in the morning.

Dr. Wright also recommends placing your hands against a wall and lunging backward one leg at a time to stretch your calf muscles.

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