This celebrity shoe trend is a podiatrist's nightmare
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This celebrity shoe trend is a podiatrist's nightmare

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, in shoes with a gap at the back in Ireland earlier this year.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, in shoes with a gap at the back in Ireland earlier this year.

Photo: AP

It all started with Meghan Markle.

No, not shirt dresses, or Prince Harry's impressive rebrand (what Nazi uniform? I don't remember any Nazi uniform), but celebrities wearing shoes that simply do not fit.

The Duchess of Sussex has been observed at several events wearing stiletto heels with a sizeable gap at the back. In June, "fashion expert" Harriet Davey was quoted in The Sun claiming this was a common celebrity trick for preventing rubbing and blisters while on their feet for long periods.

A few weeks later, on the other side of the Atlantic, another celebrity was observed in shoes with a fit no rightminded department store Christmas casual would let a child attend school in. Kanye West attended the Miami wedding of rapper 2 Chainz in a pair of slides from his own collection with more than an inch of his heel hanging off the back.

West's ill-fitting slides attracted ire on social media, prompting him to defend his decision as wearing the shoes "the Japanese way".

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Podiatrist, and ambassador for the Australian Podiatry Association, Charlotte Bodell says – "Japanese way" or not – it is not a good idea to get around in shoes that don't fit you.

She describes West's overhanging slides as simply "not good for the foot".

"If you're walking around and your heel is overhanging, even only for an hour or two, you're going to bruise the fat pad [the fatty cushion on the underside of your foot]."

Ms Bodell says the part of the foot West's shoes leave unsupported is where a bone called the calcaneal tuberosity (the heel bone) grows. When a person puts consistent stress on this area, it is possible for calcium deposits, known as a calcaneal spur, to form.

"If you do have a calcaneal spur, and you put any pressure on that area like that, it will be mightily uncomfortable," she says, adding that the spur can only be detected by an X-ray.

In addition, underneath the heel there is a bursa, one of the body's many fluid-filled sacs designed to protect the joints.

"You're going to irritate that and it's going to become inflamed," Ms Bodell warns.

But, what of Meghan's footwear choices? Will we all save ourselves from a night of blisters and sore toes by giving ourselves more room to move?

Short answer: no. Ms Bodell says she doubts this is even the reason why Meghan's shoes appear to be too big, ("she has a very narrow foot and few styles of shoe fit that type of foot ... it is likely shunting forward") although, even if it is, wearing shoes a size too big is not a trick for your next night out.

"What you end up doing then is clawing your toes to keep the shoe on your foot," she explains. "So you get hammered toes, you get corns and calluses on the tops of your toes, and then it also dissipates the fat pad so it makes the ball of your foot – where your joints are – a lot more prominent and you get more calluses there."

Oh, and Ms Bodell has one final, very scientific reason why you should never try to wear a shoe that's too large.

"It will also increase tripping over."

Mary Ward is a Lifestyle reporter for The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times and WAtoday.