Despite the fact that Uggs and their many knockoff incarnations have long been considered a â€œfashion donâ€™t,â€ lots of women love and continue to wear these suede and sheepskin boots all winter long. Theyâ€™re warm, theyâ€™re cozy, theyâ€™re easy to throw on with any outfit, they feel like slippers, and theyâ€™re a celebrity favorite. Of course this makes the boots very appealing and popular, especially during chillier months. But are they actually good for your feet? Experts say no.In a recent Daily Mail article, professionals spoke out about the health risks of wearing cheap, imitation Ugg boots. Dr. Ian Drysdale, the head of the British College of Osteopathic Medicine, said, â€œBecause these boots are warm and soft, young girls think they are giving their feet a break. In fact, they are literally breaking their feet.â€ Drysdale continued, â€œTheir feet are slipping around inside. With each step, the force falls towards the inside of the foot and the feet splay. This flattens the arch and makes it drop.Â The result can be significant problems with the foot, the ankle, and ultimately, the hip.â€
Does the Ugg boot, which retails for $140 and up, really provide more support than its more affordable imitators? Dr. Rock Positano, Director of the Non-surgical Foot and Ankle Service for the Hospital for Special Surgery, sees no difference. â€œWhether they are real Uggs or fake Uggs, weâ€™re dealing with footwear that offers no substantial and necessary orthopedic support for the foot and the ankle.â€ He has many clients come to him with complications from wearing Uggs and pseudo-Uggs. Dr. Jim Christina, a podiatrist and the Director of Scientific Affairs for the American Podiatric Medical Association says, â€œThe knockoffs that have essentially no support probably would be worse than your traditional Ugg boot, but Uggs are not a great supportive type of a footwear. They call them comfort footwear.â€
As far as either the Uggs or their imitators breaking womenâ€™s feet, Dr. Christina thinks thatâ€™s an overstatement, but warns that some women have to be very careful. â€œEverybodyâ€™s feet are different,â€ says Dr. Christina. â€œSome people have very stable feet that arenâ€™t going to flatten very much, some people have high-arched feet that can actually benefit from something that is absorbent and cushioning, and then some people have feet that flatten excessively. When you get into the latter category, yes, those people should not be doing prolonged walking in any type of footwear that doesnâ€™t provide good support.â€ Â Dr. Positano, however, is anti-Ugg across the board. â€œWhether you have a high arch, or a flat arch, inherently there are issues. You have the support issue under the foot, and the fact that thereâ€™s no support around the ankle joint or the Achilles tendon,â€ says Dr. Positano. And when it comes to affecting children, young ladies, or mature women, he insists, â€œThis type of shoe does not discriminate.â€While Dr. Christina stressed that those with a proclivity to flattening arches would be the ones affected by wearing these shoes, both doctors are in agreement that prolonged walking, standing, and activity in Ugg-like boots could lead to both temporary and long-term problems. â€œIt may manifest as a pain in the arch, the heel, or in their lower legsâ€”some of the muscles have to function differently because they have to compensate for the lack of support,â€ says Dr. Christina. As the boots place stress on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones, everyday use can cause long-term problems for wearers like bunions, hammertoes, arthritis, tendinitis, and issues with their Achilles tendon, knees, hips and lower back. â€œMost people donâ€™t develop the symptoms until the day after,â€ says Dr. Positano. â€œWhen youâ€™re walking in them, theyâ€™re comfortable.â€ So should women stop wearing Uggs and Ugg knockoffs if they experience discomfort? â€œItâ€™s probably a prudent idea,â€ says Dr. Positano, â€œbecause nine out of ten times these issues are caused by improper or inadequate foot and ankle support.â€ Dr. Christina agrees that these types of aches and pains are a warning sign to stop wearing the boots and to look for something that provides more support.
They key is to use your sheepskin boots sparingly or when you know you wonâ€™t be doing extensive walking or activity. Just as you shouldnâ€™t wear high heels for an extended period of walking or dancing, keep your Ugg boot wearing to a minimum. For casual wearers who are looking to reinforce their boots for safety, the doctors say that adding supportive insoles would be a great first step.