Ballerina's pumps should come with health warning, say experts
THEY are the must-have shoe for teenage girls, the ultimate in summer style. But the trend for cute ballerina pumps - made fashionable by celebrities like Kate Moss and Sienna Miller - can lead to long-term, serious damage, according to chiropodists.
They say the flimsy footwear can cause such disorders as fallen arches, heel spur, hammertoe, corns and calluses.
Barely-there ballerina pumps are often worn a size too small to hold them to the foot, a habit that can result in deformed feet. Another way of keeping them on is by "clawing up" the foot to stop them slipping off, which strains muscles on the back of the leg and on to the knee.
John Dillon of the Chiropody Centre in Dublin said that the pumps will do nothing to prevent arches falling in those with flat feet, which is estimated to be up to 30 per cent of the population.
"As the arch collapses, it causes the legs to internally rotate, which can cause leg pain and shin splints and even knee and hip problems," he explained.
He said the pumps can cause problems and permanent changes in the foot, like arch pain and heel spur - a thin spike of bone that attaches itself to the heel bone - and the lack of cushioning in the shoes means calluses and corns are likely.
"Wearing a shoe too small can be very destructive and can leave the foot slightly deformed, which is a worry for teens as the foot is still growing, he said.
According to Mr Dillon, the best shoes to wear are those with support for the arch, a strong heel cup to control the heel movement, which is directly linked to the arch movement, and one that has a rigid sole. He said the ballerina pump does not have any of these features.
Justin Blake of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists in Ireland said that these kinds of problems are normally associated with older people.
He explained: "Granny doesn't just wake up one morning with corns, bunions and hammertoe. It is a very slow and subtle progress and the damage is done in youth.
"Studies show that 80 per cent of women's shoes do not fit properly and this is because there is no real crossover between fashion and comfort."
He said the key to healthy feet is to vary your shoe wardrobe. "Vary footwear - wear comfortable shoes while walking and change into others once you get to the office or restaurant," he said.
He said the ballet flats are unsuitable because the slipper-like design means they are so thin that they have no cushioning, no support and no shock absorbers.
"They are so flimsy they have to be worn tightly to hold them on and this will cause hard skin developing on the toes, which is the beginning of corns and hammertoe."
Hammertoe is the bending of the second, third, fourth and fifth or little toes.
The cheap and chic ballerina pumps are a staple in the wardrobe of teenage girls and young women. They show no sign of going out of fashion and have been seen on the feet of stars such as Moss and Miller, and actresses Kirsten Dunst and Natalie Portman.