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Choose a shoe that fits your foot

Wearing uncomfortable high heels can lead to host of problems


Walking for 30 minutes a day has a variety health benefits such as reducing the chances of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and depression.

In its new health guidelines published last week, the World Health Organization advised people to engage in “moderate” physical exercise such as walking to reduce the risk of breast and colon cancers.

Amid growing interest in walking for health, the National Medical Center held Tuesday an academic conference on foot health and shoes.

The human foot contains 26 bones and some 100 ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.

Most people wear shoes that they feel are the most attractive, regardless of the damage they can cause to their feet.

In order to prevent accidents or other possible side effects while walking, however, experts say that choosing the right shoes is as important as the correct walking posture.

“High heels have an inclined structure, putting pressure on toes to resist the inclination. And there’s no material to support the top side of the foot. All these things can lead to symptoms such as bunions, corns, calluses and ingrown toe nails,” said Lee Dong-yeon, orthopedic professor at Seoul National University Hospital. 
Foot health experts warn wearing inappropriate shoes in younger years can cause pain, sometimes incurable, later in life. (Bloomberg)
Foot health experts warn wearing inappropriate shoes in younger years can cause pain, sometimes incurable, later in life. (Bloomberg)

Adding that the uncomfortable structure of high heels also causes ankle sprain, knee arthritis and back pain, Lee said “for your health, you should fit shoes to your feet, rather than fitting your feet to wrong shoes.”

Lee Tae-im, professor of rehabilitation medicine at Daejin Medical Center in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province, emphasized that senior citizens whose sense of balance has weakened need to take greater care when they purchase shoes.

According to him, one-third of people aged 65 or older are injured from a fall more than once a year.

“An inclination of about 10 degrees is proper for their heels. In order to prevent slipping, polyurethane soles are recommended as they have higher resistance force. If the heels are worn down, throw away the shoes and buy new ones,” he said.

Kim Dong-yeop, chairman of Hana Meditech, a company selling products for foot health, offered some tips for when purchasing shoes.

He said the first thing to do is to choose a shop with a large selection of shoes and well-trained staff.

“You need to get your feet measured every time when you purchase a shoe because the width of the foot may change from time to time. Always try on both shoes and fit your large foot. Walk around the shop to get a feel for the shoes,” he said.

He suggested that the ideal shoe has a broad based heel with the height no greater than 4 centimeters. And the bottom should be flat and have adequate cushioning, he added.

Doctors at the conference also gave advice on the correct walking posture for daily life.

“Straighten up your back and head as if boosting your height. Your eyes need to keep staring 5 to 6 meters ahead,” said Yang Yoon-june, professor of family practice at Inje University College of Medicine.

“Walk in a straight line as long as you don’t feel uncomfortable. Have the outside of the heel touch the ground first, then move your weight from the whole foot to the front part.”

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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