Are Ugg Boots Not Made for Walking?
by Taylor Kubota
Your favorite sheepskin shoes may be wreaking havoc on your feet.
Sheepskin boots were invented with the intention of keeping tootsies warm and comfortable. Much like their cousin, the slipper, they were not designed for certain people to wear them every single place they go, all day long (you know who you are). Aside from this being a questionable fashion statement, wearing your sheepskin boots relentlessly may be causing you all kinds of foot troubles.
“The inside of sheepskin boots are really nice and soft, but there are two issues,” says Robert J. Joseph, a Los Angeles doctor of podiatric medicine and surgery and the founder of DoctorInsole. “One, there’s absolutely no arch, and two, there’s absolutely no stability within the boot itself.”
Although these sheepskin shoes look like other boots, they don’t have the same structure through the ankle that you might expect. That is what Joseph says may be causing many of the rolled ankles he sees in wearers of these shoes. Additionally, he says the lack of arch support common in sheepskin boots has likely been the cause of severe arch and heel pain he’s witnessed in his patients who wear them for extended periods of time.
The fluffy lining that appears so lovely and nice may also trigger a not-so-lovely side effect: fungus. People often forgo socks in sheepskin boots, but that means they are usually soaking in sweat by the end of the day, and too much time in moist shoes can lead to foot fungus. Symptoms of foot fungus can include itching or burning sensations (especially between toes), dry skin, and funky-looking toenails. Even using socks only slows this problem down rather than halting it.
This has been some unpleasant and gross information so far, but there is no need to abandon your sheepskin boots altogether. “Never tell a woman they can’t wear something,” says Joseph. “I always say, if you are going to do this, this is what I recommend you do.”
Firstly, Joseph says these boots are perfectly fine in small doses. If you just can’t resist living in them, he also has some tips that could help. To address the problem of foot pain, Joseph recommends finding boots with arch support and a small heel. He says that feet, women’s in particular, are structured so that the toes sit lower than the heel. That means wearing flat shoes actually puts extra strain on your achilles. He recommends a ½- to 1-inch heel for optimal comfort. If such supportive boots seem impossible to find, Joseph says wearing insoles is also a good alternative fix.
For sweatiness, Joseph advises people use antiperspirant spray on their feetand says they should wash them often (especially if they’re wearing them without socks!). It’s also a smart move to let the boots dry out.
To stretch your arch: Freeze a tennis ball or can of soda and roll it back and forth under the arch of your bare foot on each side. The cold numbs your sore feet while the rolling relieves pain.
To strengthen your toes: Stretch your bare feet out like fingers on a carpet, then scrunch the carpet fibers with your toes. Similarly, you can practice picking up small objects with your feet to get a toe workout.