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UGGs: Why They’re Bad for Your Feet

Posted by on Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

I’m always fascinated by how people overreact to temperature changes. Like if there’s a freak warm day during the first week or so of April where the temperature hits 70 degrees and you suddenly see everyone break out their summer clothes. I look at the girls stripped down to short shorts and tiny tank tops and think to myself, “It’s 70 degrees and you’re close to the minimum. What are you going to be wearing when it hits 85?”

The same thing happens if there’s a slight cool–not even cold–snap in late August or early September. Last week we had some morning temperatures in the mid 60s in my neighborhood. While walking my dog early in the morning, what did I see people wearing? Fall colors. Sweaters. And some boots.

Most of the time, our “bad shoe!!” tirades are directed at stiletto heels with pointy toes or thin, floppy flip flops. Today, though, they’re not the targets–instead we want to point out the problems with one of the most popular types of boots worn by women: UGGs.

Wait! You always tell me to avoid super high stilettos and pointy-toed shoes! UGGs are perfectly flat and have a roomy rounded toe box. What’s the problem? Do you hate comfort? No, I’m fond of comfort, but gooshy soft comfort isn’t always the right choice. A soft bed sounds nice, but your back won’t feel so nice the next morning. UGGs may be comfy but they’re as bad for your feet as french fries are for your butt.

Here’s the problem–while we can give props to UGGs for their roomy round toe box, that’s about all we can give them. UGGs don’t have any laces or straps and they’re sculpted in a, well, they’re not really sculpted at all–they’re a vague shape that allows your feet to flop around inside of them. That means that somewhat like flip flops, your feet–especially your toes–have to clench and grab with each step you take, otherwise your feet would just slide. There’s no stability or support, especially for your arches. Without any arch support, you’re putting a great deal of pressure on your arches, which can lead to a variety of foot problems, for example, our popular friend plantar fasciitis. Perfectly flat shoes also put a strain on your Achilles tendon. UGGs are not nice to your feet.

But I have several pairs of UGGs in pretty colors and I love them. And they cost me a lot of money. Are you suggesting I just toss them?! No! You can actually help your feet out if you really want to stick with your UGGs. Get some arch support inserts at a drug store to add extra support for your arches. Even better, you can see a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) to get orthotics custom fit for your feet (these will fit better and last a lot longer than over the counter ones). Put these in your UGGs and your feet will have the stability and support they need.

Great! I wouldn’t want to give up my super warm comfy foot friends! Actually, that brings me to another problem–warm is nice, too warm is not so nice. Those thick shearling interiors can smother your feet and make them sweat. That can lead to prickly heat on your toes and of course, the fungal infections that thrive in warm, dark damp spaces.

Oh no…Can I just slide cold packs into my boots to cut down on the heat? That would be uncomfortable and the cold pack would be cold for about five minutes. Then it would turn into a slushy, warm, compounding the problem pack.

The key is to make sure that you always wear some kind of moisture wicking socks to help keep your feet dry even if they do sweat. You can also put powder in your socks to double guard against sweat. Then air your feet out the first chance you get and change socks if the ones you are wearing are damp. Never go barefoot in your UGGs. First off, there’s no barrier fabric to pull moisture from your feet. Second, if your feet do develop some kind of fungus, it will settle into the shoe as well as your feet, so even if you cure your foot fungus, you’ll get it right back from your fungus filled shoe.

Ugh. Yes.

So you don’t have to abandon your favorite comfy boots–just try to be smart about them. Add inserts, keep your feet dry and don’t wear them every day all day. Switch off with shoes that have more support and you’ll be fine!

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine LaiDr. Nadia Levy, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.

3 Responses to “UGGs: Why They’re Bad for Your Feet”

  1. mark joyce says:

    B.S. Adding an insole will not make uggs any better. An insole requires a stable structure to secure the foot above the insole. It’s like trying to use an insole with a flip-flop. It won’t work. Buy something sensible to begin with. (p.s. I used to make insoles for a living…I’m not just guessing.)

  2. Sophia Heimbaugh says:

    Okay so… Should I not get UGGs now?

    • Jenn F. says:

      You can still get UGGS if you like the fashion aesthetic. They are fine if you don’t wear them everyday. You may also consider buying a pair of cheap Dr. Scholls shoe inserts from the pharmacy or supermarket to give you better arch support. We also have custom orthotics at the podiatrist’s office if your feet are really aching. Thanks for reading!

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