With many opting for more casual attire for the home office, some foot specialists worry people are not giving their feet the proper support they need.
President of the Australian Podiatry Association, Katrina Richards, said sheepskin ugg boots may pose a number of risks to foot health.
“Footwear can cause a lot of problems and generally that’s because it is ill fitting or unsupportive or worn out,” Ms Richards said.
Unfortunately all of those things are the perfect storm in the ugg boot.
“Because they are so expensive we tend to buy a pair and wear them beyond death.
“Most people are probably walking around in really old, ill fitting, completely unsupportive ugg boots. And they are generally not walking on the sole [of their feet].”
Podiatrist Rebecca Baird said while ugg boots and other slippers provide a warm option, they can lead to lead to long-term health issues.
“We could see people suffering from foot pain in the future if they wear slippers a lot because they don’t offer any support,” she said.
“Particularly if you’re working from home on tiles, as tiles are not very forgiving surface to be walking around on.”
She said feet are often overlooked, but need a little TLC.
We take feet for granted and I’ve been known to do it myself. And I’m a foot doctor!” Ms Baird said.
Ms Baird said if people do plan to use slippers as their footwear of choice there are a few things they should do to make sure they look after their feet.
She said making sure they are in good condition is key.
“They may be your favourites, but they may have worn through the base,” Ms Baird said.
“Slippers have soft soles and over time they can squish down and are no longer flat.
Rips are another big one for people to be aware of as they could pose a slip hazard, which is an issue for people over 60.”
Ms Baird said the test of whether it is time to bin the slippers is the humble sniff test.
“They’ve such a soft, fluffy interior, and feet are going to sweat not matter what,” she said.
“If you’ve been popping your feet in there and the inside is starting to look not-so-great, it’s probably time to move on.”
Possibly the most worrying issued that may arise from spending more time in ugg boots, and potentially sweating in that hot environment, is the potential for infection.
Ms Richards said the slipper provides a perfect breeding ground for tinea or bacterial infection.
“There is also something you can get called ‘crumpet foot’,” she said.
You can get that much bacteria on your foot it looks like a crumpet.”
Long-term health impacts
Good foot posture is not only important to good foot health, but good overall health.
Ms Richards said most people’s problems come from having flat feet or poor foot posture.
“[Good foot support] takes the pressures off a lot of the structures, particularly the tendons in your foot, that stretch when your foot is flat,” she said.
“You can get extra strain on your lower leg, your knees, and it can go up to your hips and your lower back.
If you have a nice arch support it gives your foot a break.”
Ms Baird said the interest in slippers is a timely reminder about the importance of foot health.
“You should take time once a week to get to know your feet. Check for any new spots or changes,” she said.
“One of the best ways to care for feet is to make sure they’re supported by good shoes.”
Ms Richards said if you are at home, one of the best things you can do is wear supportive shoes like sneakers.
“Any shoe that has good fixation that holds the shoe onto your foot well is ideal,” she said.
“Ugg boot foot wasn’t a subject we studied at university, so I don’t think it will have quite the effect on the globe as COVID-19. But if your feet hurt wearing them try something else.”