With the return of Y2K and McBling styles in full force, certain footwear silhouettes have clawed their way out of the past, and into our closets again. For those of you who remember perusing the platform slides on the pages of Delia’s catalogs, this is going to be a (literal) walk down memory lane… but platforms are back. Really back.
But, if you’ve ever twisted an ankle in one of these beloved, height-boosting shoes, you know that they aren’t always optimized for healthy feet and ankles.
The architecture of a platform, explained
“Platform shoes have a degree of cushioning in the midsole of the shoe, particularly under the ball of the foot,” says podiatrist Nelya Lobkova, DPM, of Step Up Surgical Podiatry in New York City. Sometimes, this can be a good thing! “The platform provides additional shock absorption, which may be beneficial for the bones and joints in our feet.”
There’s a catch, though: The design of the platform itself is crucial. “It is important that the platforms maintain a cautious heel-to-toe drop,” she says. This determines the angle of your foot in the shoe, based on the amount of material in the heel relative to the amount in the front of the shoe, where your toes are. Dr. Lobkova recommends one to one and a half inches of heel-to-toe drop. Anything more than that, she says, makes the shoe “unstable” and can leave you “susceptible to falling and getting injured.”
Tips for safe and comfortable platform wearing
While not every platform shoe is a podiatrically-sound choice, there are certain features that can help make the style better for your feet. Since platforms can sometimes be a little less stable, Dr. Lobkova recommends a rubber outsole “for superior traction.” Here are her recs for a variety of styles:
Dress shoes: “Look for chunky heels instead of stilettos.”
Clogs/mules: Dr. Lobkova likes these Swedish Hasbeens. “These have a cushioned yet stiff sole, with an elevated heel and a soft upper material for comfort.”
Booties: Look for “a nice modest platform for a comfy evening shoe,” like Chie Mihara’s Herita style (one of her personal picks).
Oxford: A popular silhouette this season, the platform oxford style, is also Dr. Lobkova-recommended (and ultra stylish).
Sandals: Dr. Lobkova loves the Dansko Racquel walking sandal, because they “tout a lightweight and cushioned midsole, forefoot rocker, and adjustable straps that are water resistant.”
Sneakers: The Hoka Bondi SR is a platform walking shoe that Dr. Lobkova says has great cushioning for concrete city streets—which especially comes in handy if you’re walking longer distances. She also helped design a platform sneaker herself at KLAW Footwear. “All the aspects of an optimal walking biomechanical system were taken into account to create this sneaker, including an insole with a deep heel cup, medial and lateral arch support, plenty of cushioning in the lightweight midsole (11 ounces), and an optimal heel-to-toe drop of seven millimeters,” she says.
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