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Those Stilettos Can Hurt You Years From Now

Damage from sandals, slippers and high heels contributes to aching feet later on, researchers say

TUESDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Young women who make poor shoe choices risk foot pain later in life, U.S. researchers warn.

The study authors analyzed data from 1,900 women and 1,472 men enrolled in the Framingham Foot Study between 2002 and 2008. The participants were asked about pain, aching, or stiffness in either or both feet. They also provided information about current and past footwear.

Footwear was classified as: good (low-risk shoes, including athletic and casual sneakers); average (mid-risk shoes, such as hard- or rubber-soled shoes, special shoes and work boots); and poor (high-risk shoes that lack support and sound structure, such as high-heeled shoes, sandals and slippers).

The researchers found that one-quarter of participants reported generalized foot pain on most days, with 19 percent of men and 29 percent of women falling into this category.

"In women, we found an increased risk between hindfoot pain and shoewear," wrote the researchers from Boston University School of Public Health and the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife.

Less than 2 percent of men wore poor shoes, which means that shoe type wasn't a major factor in the development of foot pain in men, the researchers noted.

"While more research is needed, young women should make careful choices regarding their shoe type to avoid hindfoot pain later in life, or perform stretching exercises to alleviate the effect of high heels on foot pain," the researchers recommended.

The study appears in the October issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers advice about footwear.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Arthritis Care & Research, news release, Sept. 29, 2009

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