Harvard Women's Health Watch

The right shoes: The key to better health

Your mobility and independence begin with your feet. Finding footwear that fits can keep you moving.

What fashion magazines consider to be the "right" shoes can be absolutely wrong for our feet. Soaring heels, pointy toes, and support-less sandals are brutal on ankles and toes. Wearing them day after day can inflict permanent damage on our feet. And if our feet hurt, we're less mobile and less inclined to exercise.

Wearing heels all your life contributes to the tightening or shortening of your Achilles tendon, the band of fibrous tissue that runs up the back of your ankle, according to Dr. James Ioli, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School and chief of the podiatry service at Brigham and Women's Hospital. A 2012 study found that habitual heel wearers have shorter strides, permanently flexed toes, and stunted calf muscles that leave them more prone to injury.

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