The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

7 Deadly Sins of Slippers Season: Protecting Your Mobility This Winter

Posted by on Thursday, October 16th, 2014

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Now that the New York air is chillier, our patients are sticking their feet into plush, warm slippers. NYC podiatrists agree that wearing house slippers is important for protecting your feet from all kinds of hazards around the home — puncture wounds, splinters, falling objects, nail injuries, and slips (to name a few). A sturdy pair of house slippers is essential for people with diabetes, neuropathy, and plantar fasciitis, especially. However, you want to make sure you’re not inadvertently committing one of the “7 Deadly Sins of Slipper Wearing” we sometimes come across in our practice.

best slippers
Exercise due diligence when choosing the best slippers this season.

1. You bought a slipper based on looks, rather than function.

There are many choices to make when buying a quality slipper. These choices go way beyond “sheepskin vs. plush” or “moccasin-style vs. backless.” Aim for a house slipper that meets the following criteria, as mentioned by The Healthy Feet Store:

– Breathable uppers that keep your feet dry

– Arch support and a heel cup or a removable footbed that accommodates orthotic inserts

– A cushioned midsole and soft lining

– A durable outsole made from thermoplastic, latex, or polyurethane

– A roomy toe box

– Zippers or closures for adjustability

2. You bought the cheapest pair of slippers you could find.

A $10 pair of slippers from Wal-Mart is just not going to give you the quality or structure your feet deserve, period. The American Podiatric Medical Association recommends OrthaHeel’s Gemma, Laura, Relax, Shawn, and Whistler slippers, which run from $40 to $60. Of course, these are not the only brands that are worthwhile for foot pain sufferers. We also like Spenco men’s slippers and a little-known brand called Haflinger. Consider the aforementioned qualities, rather than giving into the bargain bin temptation. Your feet will thank you later!

3. You think ballet flats are slippers.

Slip-on ballet flats may seem virtually indistinguishable from traditional house slippers at first. However, they are often made without much more than a slab of soft leather or suede for a sole. As one San Francisco podiatrist explained, “Most ballet flats provide no arch support and have very little padding in the insole, which means they are essentially like wearing a very thick sock.” Ballet flats have been widely condemned by podiatrists, in the same way as flip-flops have.

4. You never thought of washing your slippers.

Failing to wash your slippers can leave your footwear rife with bacteria, fungus, even mildew. Sweat, darkness, heat — these are all environmental factors that allow microorganisms to thrive and reproduce mercilessly. Ideally, slippers should be thrown into the washing machine at least twice a month to make sure unsavory colonies aren’t building up inside your fuzzy friends. Some people like to run their slippers through a UV shoe sanitizer once a week. Be proactive: don’t wait until they smell!

5. You don’t change your slippers as often as you should.

In addition to washing slippers regularly, we advise patients to buy new slippers each year. Many people admit to wearing the same pair of slippers for years on end. Not only do the slippers become worn-out as any old shoe would, but they also lose their form and become unstable in a way that a regular shoe could never do. This makes you more likely to twist an ankle or trip and fall. Put slippers on your Christmas list, and you’ll be assured a feet-treat every holiday season!

6. You wear slippers that don’t fit.

We’ve seen some egregious crimes committed in the slipper manufacturing arena. A size like “small” or “extra-large” can’t accurately fit a person’s foot. We’ve also seen split sizes like “6/7” or “8/9.” It’s a huge jump between sizes, so it’s likely this type of slipper will end up flopping around on your foot. You can bet the back end will wind up smashed flat. The foot will slide around inside the slipper and irritate you so much you’ll probably abandon wearing them altogether once you’ve broken them in. Save yourself the heartache and get a properly fitted support slipper.

7. You forget to wear your orthotics inside your slippers

What is the point of having orthotic insoles if you only wear them half the time? Some foot pain sufferers come to us, wondering why their feet are still hurting even after getting orthotics. Upon further questioning, we find that they do more wandering around the house during a typical day than they realize — with absolutely no support for their feet! This is particularly true of moms and homemakers. If you have custom insoles, be sure the slipper you purchase can accommodate them.

Find the Right Slippers in New York City

If you would like more help finding the right slipper, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. We help patients in Westchester and Manhattan find the right footwear, in addition to treating all different types of foot and ankle pain — from plantar fasciitis and foot fractures to Morton’s neuroma and arthritis. We offer traditional, surgical, and innovative therapies for hurting feet, including platelet rich plasma injections and shockwave therapy.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.