Can These Shoes Hurt You?
Daniel L. Wiernik, D.P.M.
Dr. Funk has not seen any complications, fractures or tendon injuries from use of the shoes. He does clarify, however, “ There are two basic populations of patients that should not wear the shoes. The first of which are patients with structural deformities of the back, which are not reducible. The roller bottom shoe does result in instability and constant rocking and straightening of the spine. If the spine cannot straighten via structural pathology, this could lead to more problems for these back patients.”
A simple lower back strain or muscle condition can usually tolerate these shoes quite well. Another patient population he suggests should consider avoiding the shoes are chronic Achilles tendinitis patients. The constant firing of calves could lead to increased Achilles tendinitis.
The shoes are specifically designed for walking. Marketers claim they are safe to use on hills, treadmills, elliptical machines, low-impact gym activities and even driving. It is not recommended to use the shoes for high impact aerobics or running. Dr. Funk does caution, “Caution should be used wearing the shoes on uneven terrain because of the lateral instability potential.” He also advises, “The shoes should not be worn for lateral motion sport. The shoes should only be used for straightforward activities.”
Many patients who stand or walk for prolonged periods of time as teachers and nurses love these shoes. Even servers in restaurants report that the shoes are comfortable and supportive to wear while working long shifts on hard, uncomfortable surfaces. These workers report pain free shifts. Dr. Wiernik adds that “Some people may benefit from improved posture because they need to concentrate more on balance when walking in these shoes.”
Both doctors do not find any specific brand to be superior. Both the doctors and marketers of the shoes agree. The shoes may offer benefit to some people, but it is recommended to consult with your doctor to see if the shoes are appropriate especially if you have the specific medical condition.
Originally Published in Florida MD, Oct. 2010