As soon as the temperature dips below 70 here in Houston, men, women and kids of all ages rush to bring out their UGGs—those slouchy, comfy, cozy pillows for your feet that you can really only wear for about three months of the year here in Texas. And now that so many people are working and camping from home, with the AC cranked all the way up, it's basically an invitation to wear these babies all. Day. Long. Those UGGs feel great at first, but they can leave you with lots of foot pain if worn for too long

Of course, wearing UGGs or similar sheep skin boots does feel, for women, the chance to switch from high-heeled torture devices to a socially-acceptable outdoor-version of the slipper is an occasion to be celebrated. And I get that, but here's the problem: I may understand the urge, but I still can't condone it.

Now please, don’t hate me for my assertion: there's a reason for my madness. I know that UGGs feel amazing to slip into, especially the morning after a long run day. When the kids are already up and dragging you out of bed, or out of a Zoom meeting, to get breakfast going or to serve up yet another snack. But, unfortunately, the way they feel when you wear them doesn't change the fact that they aren’t actually all that good for your feet in terms of the end game. 

Of course, there are several different reasons that UGGs are bad for your feet. But don’t worry, I can help you come up with a work-around for most of these issues. Here’s the low-down:

Problem: UGG Boots are too Flat and too Loose

UGGs have no laces, no straps and no real shape, which means your feet and toes have to clench and grab every time you take a step, just to keep from sliding around. Additionally, the completely flat base offers no arch support—in combination, these two shortcoming can lead to both foot and heel pain, especially as the connective tissue running from your heel along your foot gets tugged and irritated as your arch lowers to its new, flat base. 

Solution: If you slip an orthotic insert into your boot, your shoes will fit better and your feet will get some added support, making the likelihood of discomfort in your favorite boots much, much lower. Just check out our guidelines for wearing orthotics with your winter boots...yes, this still applies if you're simply walking around the house! 

Problem: Worn Out Boots Hurt Your Feet

It's no secret that UGGs and other sheepskin boots don't come cheap. Which is one more reason why it's tempting to wear the same pair of boots well past their suggested shelf life. But here's the issue: these boots offer little arch support to begin with. Factor in the wear-and-tear of endless miles of walking in them (even just around your house, those steps add up) and you may end up with a worn out shoe base that provides zero support. This is a problem wherever you walk in those UGGs, but especially if your home has tile or wood floor, hard surfaces that only increase the impact on your feet. Additionally, if those boots develop even slight tears in the lining, you increase the risk of trips and slips, exposing you to potential injuries such as ankle sprains or even foot fractures

Solution: Check for signs that boots need replacing, and when you see them, make sure to actually do that. Not sure what to look for? When the foot bed is flat and no longer fluffy, or when there's a noticeable odor coming from that area, it's a clear sign it's time to shop for a new pair (or maybe an entirely different, more supportive, boot or slipper, if I may be so bold to suggest such heresy.)  Adding a pair of orthotics to your favorite UGG boots could help you avoid foot pain

Problem: They’re Too Hot 

Yes, your UGGs are super cozy but, especially in places like Houston, that warm lining can really make your feet sweat, leaving you vulnerable to foot fungi like Athlete’s Foot. This is especially true when you let your feet ride bare back in those boots, since everything coming off your feet will be absorbed in the shoe's lining, and come back to haunt you the next time you slip on those UGGs. 

Solution: Choose your socks wisely-- wear socks designed to soak up moisture so sweat doesn’t sit on your feet. Alternatively, you could put some baby powder in your socks to protect your feet and in-between your toes. NEVER go barefoot in your UGGs and ALWAYS air your feet out, sock-free, after you’ve been wearing them for a while.

The bottom line is, even your supposedly comfiest shoes can hurt your feet if you don’t know the right way to wear them. So, be wise when choosing your footwear. It's still ok to wear your UGGs, just don't spend entire days or weeks in these or other types of unsupportive footwear. Instead, follow the 80/20 principle (hey, it works for dieting!): 80% of the time, wear supportive sneakers that give your feet what they need. And, the other 20%? Feel free to wear those heels, UGGs, or flip flops. Just keep this in mind: if you regularly experience foot pain, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider so you can stop hurting and start loving your favorite shoes again. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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Emily 07/23/2020 05:30 PM
What you said about Uggs here seems correct if you base the info on what you know about normal shoes but Uggs are unique among shoes and such need unique knowledge to understand them properly and wear them right. I will go over some of the points you made here and keep in mind this is coming from someone who has worn Uggs for nearly 15 years now and whose mother is a well-known podiatrist who says my feet are perfect. 1. "Worn Out Boots Hurt Your Feet." This is true, I wear my Uggs a lot and find that 3 years is around the right time for me to replace them since it is when the fur starts wearing out and the sheepskin gets worn out. 2. "UGG Boots are too Flat and too Loose" This is only true if you buy the wrong size. The truth is that if you follow Uggs sizing recommendation then they will not be loose at all and your toes will not have to clench when you walk in them. This leads to the recommendation of putting an insole in, this is a bad idea because it lifts the foot high in the boot than it was designed to be which means that the sizing is wrong and the shaped heel guard doesn't hold the heel in place which all lead to discomfort. So how should they be fitted and worn? This point will sound crazy but I will cover it more in the next problem. Basically rule number one when wearing Uggs is that you should ALWAYS 100% of the time wear them WITHOUT socks. The main reason for this is fit. Uggs are made from real shearling sheepskin so they have the thick fur still inside. This means that if you choose the right size at first so they are snug feeling but not uncomfy WITHOUT socks then after a week or two the fur and leather itself will stretch and mold to the shape of your foot creating a perfect fit to your foot with the fur conforming to every shape of your foot and even creating a personalized light arch support for them. This means that fit so well it's as natural feeling as walking with bare feet but comfier. 3. "They’re Too Hot" Now how can I argue with this I mean they are fur boots made for cold winter so if you wear them when it's not cold your feet will sweat and they will get fungi and other gross stuff especially when you wear them without socks. Right? No this is false, It's true for every other shoe but Uggs are special because of the sheepskin. If you have ever wondered how sheep don't overheat in summer will its because sheep's skin and fur are an amazing temp regulator. This translates to Uggs also, so when you wear Uggs without socks it has to be without so the fur is touching your bare skin they will keep your feet feeling the same comfy body temp weather its 0f out or 70f and even up to around 85. This means that your feet will not sweat in them and if they do for some reason the fur will wick the moister away and keep your feet dry and then because the sheep leather is very breathable the sweat will evaporate out of the boot. Sheepskin is also antimicrobial so bacteria won't survive in them. No bacteria, no sweat or moister and only body temp inside the boots means that fungi and other nasty stuff will not come from your Uggs. I have been following these things for 15 years and have never had a pair of smell or get nasty and have never had my feet hurt from wearing them.
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