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Researchers found that wooden Clogs damaged the feet of Dutch farmers who wore them constantly while doing hard manual labor
The shoes can chip the bones of the feet, and wearing them causes repeated ‘micro-traumas’ the researchers say
Modern clogs are mostly made out of more flexible material, but they still cause lasting harm that can even lead to knee, hip and back problems, one New York podiatrist says
If you think that clogs of any kind are a good choice for your feet, think again, experts say.
New research has shown how the traditional wooden variety of the shoe chips away at bones, and a leading podiatrist says that the modern versions are not much better.
Researchers from Western University in Ontario, Canada took a look between the toes of some 500 skeletons from near Amsterdam, and found rare craters had been carved out. Since the bone lesion is unusual, but was so common in these skeletons, the researchers conclude the clogs were to blame.
Modern clogs are made of much more malleable, gentle materials, but New York City podiatrist Dr Suzanne Levine still says they don’t deserve their place on the list of the American Podiatric Medical Association’s accepted footwear options.
Two hundred years ago, wooden clogs were essentially the only footwear fashion in the Netherlands, especially among farming communities.
The carved clunkers were great for keeping farmers’ feet dry and protecting them from incoming cow hooves, but they weren’t exactly doing feet the kinds of ergonomic favors modern shoes are capable of.
Dr Andrea Waters-Rist found that a surprising proportion of her more than 500 skeletons from a farming community in the Netherlands had the same feet problems. The 200-year-old foot bones had similar patterns of osteochondritis dissecans, a relatively condition in which the bone has been chipped away.
Together with her team, Dr Waters-Rist worked out that all of these farmers would have been wearing clogs, day-in and day-out while doing rigorous manual labor. Clogs like theirs are ‘not good at absorbing shock, and constrain the natural movement of your foot,’ she says.
‘If you think about how you walk, you bend your foot and press off the ball of your foot, that’s how you propel yourself forward,’ Dr Waters-Rist says, ‘but a clog-bound foot is not able to do so very naturally. You have to kind of kick the foot forward, and it changes the way we walk.’
I would rather wear heels than clogs Dr Suzanne Levine, podiatrist
The injuries that the farmers sustained were similar to what we see in athletes, such as gymnasts, who repeat that same movements that strain your feet over and over again.
She says that the clogs alone probably wouldn’t have done this damage, but coupled with their daily activities, the shoes inflicted damage that lasted beyond death.
‘The farmers might have been totally asymptomatic…but based on their lifestyle, they probably couldn’t take time off to rest this part of the body,’ says Dr Waters-Rist. ‘They had no choice in the matter: work had to be done, so they went to do it.’
Modern clog-wearers have the luxury of rest, of course, and so long as they can take a break from their questionable fashion decisions, their feet can probably recover.
‘There are a lot of great things about clogs,’ Dr Waters-Rist says, ‘I don’t want them to get a bad rap. They were popular because they were affordable for all, very durable and kept kept feet really dry,’ which was important to farmers working in they boggy Netherlands.
The rubbery descendants of the Dutch clog has become a popular and even recommended choice for people in the healthcare and service industries who have to stand for long stretches of time.
But they shouldn’t be, says Dr Levine.
In fact, ‘I would rather wear heels than clogs,’ she says.
‘So many nurses wear Dansko clogs. They say they accommodate their bunions and corns, but they were originally wood, and made for farmers. The fact that we’re wearing them again is amazing,’ Dr Levine says.
She says wearing clogs for long periods of time can cause fissures in the heels, and stress that travels to the ankles, knees, hips and even back.
‘They’re rigid of sole and have no shock-absorption. You can hear people clogging along, the gait is ridiculous and more importantly the stress fractures and that shearing stretches up the spine’ can cause long term damage, she says.
Dr Levine says that clogs do nothing to support arches, combat gravity or support arches. They feel comfortable because they allow the foot to spread out, but this can lead to plantar fasciitis.
Instead, Dr Levine suggests lace up sneakers for a long day on your feet. She adds that any open-backed shoes should also be avoided, including flip-flops and mules.
‘Having a little heel is so much better for your foot than a very flat shoe,’ Dr Levine says. Flat shoes can lead to flat feet, burning and inflammation under the balls of the feet.
Moreover, there just is not one perfect shoe for every foot. She says that well-constructed shoes made of natural materials are worth the splurge.
In particular, women with wider feet can look to Prada or Steve Madden. If your feet are on the narrow side, try a pair of Louboutins or Zanottis.
But whatever you do, don’t slip into those Danskos.
Source: Daily Mail
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