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.
Of course, wearing UGGs or similar sheep skin boots does feel cozy...plus, 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.)
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.