April 10, 2009 — -- The popular UGG-style boot is renowned for its comfort. But some doctors worry that the fashion staple could cause serious foot pain in the long run.
So some podiatrists across the country are telling UGG boot lovers to watch their steps.
"It may feel cushiony; it may feel comfortable, but it doesn't mean they're getting the necessary arch support that a foot needs to function effectively," said Dr. Rock Positano of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Such advice hasn't stopped UGG boot lovers like Tammy Mudd of Wilmington, Ohio, from donning the boot with a suede exterior and sheepskin lining.
Mudd, 28, has seven pairs of the footwear in her closet and rarely takes them off, saying she would take any color or style of UGG boot because she loves them so much.
And she's not the only one holding on to her UGG-style boots. Even during tough economic times, UGG Australia said sales are up and knock-off variations are everywhere.
The Australian company said that in 30 years of doing business, it hasn't received a single complaint about its boots lacking arch support or about their comfort.
But podiatrist Positano warned that arch support is important for helping the foot to absorb shock, and poor shoe support means trouble for your feet.
"What that leads to is overuse, meaning the muscles, the tendons, the ligaments, and the bones in the foot and the ankle overwork," he said. "A recent study just came out that showed the correlation between a flat arch, and problems with the knee, the hip, and the back."
And UGG boots, which can cost more than $100, aren't the only shoes people should be wary of. The flip-flop is a potential problem, too.
"The types of shoes that are best are usually a semi-rigid shoe that's not too flexible, that has a small heel," Positano said. "Mechanically, that makes the foot and the ankle work not nearly as hard as it normally would."
But if you're worried about your feet, you don't have to throw away your UGG boots. Positano suggested getting a foot insert over the counter, or by prescription, to add arch support to the boots.
"We try to tell our patients that UGGs are OK to wear in a social situation," he said. "But to go out for a long walk or a hike or recreational activities, it's not a good idea."
Some of the UGG boot faithful, like Mudd, refuse to give up their favorite shoe for any reason.
"It's not going to stop me from wearing them," Mudd said.