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Combining Health & Beauty - Demystifying Healthy Shoe Trends

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Combining Health & Beauty - Demystifying Healthy Shoe Trends

The quick fix has always been a staple in the American lifestyle - minute rice, diet pills, Botox...all designed to give consumers something for virtually nothing.

The latest wave of "shortcuts" has been shoes that claim to improve the health of the wearer - either through weight loss or general well-being. Of course, like all trends, there are those who tend to overdo it.

According to podiatrists Dr. Johanna Youner and Dr. Emanuel Sergi, they have seen an influx of patients complaining of foot and leg pain after overdosing on "healthy shoes."

Dr. Youner believes many patients purchase health shoes such as MBT Shoes or FitFlops in an effort to maximize the claims the companies make. Unfortunately for many wearers, the shoes can do more harm than good if they are overused.

Dr. Sergi and Dr. Youner have taken a close look at some of the most popular health shoes on the market today and given their medical opinion of their claims and the risks associated with wearing them. I have attached a press release below for your review, and would be happy to send you more information if you're interested.

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If the Shoe Fits...

New York City Podiatrists  Demystify Today's Healthy Shoe Trend

Whether it's a belt that promises to tone abs while watching TV or the thigh master, Americans can always be counted on to try the latest trends in workout equipment.

While some fail to live up to their promises and fade out just as quickly as they made headlines, others gradually become classics.

The latest to make waves in this category are shoes designed to improve physical fitness and, in some cases, help the wearer lose weight.

Shoes have long enjoyed a prominent role in fashion - styles from Manolo Blahnik and Nike are considered iconic - but never before has their function been center stage.

"Shoes that claim to encourage and even contribute to weight loss, but require nothing more than walking, are all the rage and while some of those claims are valid, some are not," says board certified New York City podiatrist Dr. Johanna S. Youner. "It's a classic case of something that sounds too good to be true actually being too good to be true."

Navigating the various choices is an arduous task. Dr. Youner prides herself on being at the helm of cutting-edge technology and is a proponent of the philosophy of combining health and beauty. Even so, she warns that it's vital to consult a physician prior to taking part in any new fitness trend.

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Dr. Youner, along with partner Dr. Emanuel Sergi see countless patients at their Park Avenue practice Park Avenue Podiatric Associates invest in shoes that claim to promote fitness but instead of achieving greater health, they end up with new issues like tendonitis.

"It's important to realize these shoes force the foot to actually function differently," explains Dr. Sergi.

"New muscles are engaged in the foot and legs and if the patient doesn't use them correctly, they can actually do more harm than good."

The FitFlopTM: "The Flip Flop with a Gym Built in"

· The Claim: The FitFlop is designed as an alternative for people who love wearing flip flops but require the support of a walking shoe. For people who spend a considerable amount of time on their feet, The Fit Flop provides them with comfort as well as a workout aimed at toning the calf, thigh and buttocks. Their web site ( states their goal "to create the world's most efficient dual-use fashion/fitness products" but they warn that since FitFlops have the potential to increase muscle activity in both duration and workload, they should be used progressively to avoid "excessive muscle soreness."

Benefits To Wearing Fit Flops

· What the Doctor Says: In Dr. Sergi's expert opinion, there are some benefits to wearing Fit Flops. In comparison to standard, flat-soled rubber flip flops, they are an improvement because the thick sole offers increased shock absorption. But, says Dr. Sergi, keep in mind that despite their solid construction, they are still flip flops. "Feet work harder with all flip flops just to keep them on, increasing the occurrence of tendonitis and other injuries," cautions Dr. Sergi.

"Also, an open toe in any situation often leads to injuries especially when they're worn for outdoor chores or while rushing through crowds." Finally, he says that those who suffer from heel pain should never use Fit Flops - plantar fasciitis is a serious threat because the way the Fit Flop bends pulls on the plantar fascia, which connects the heel to the toes, and can lead to uncomfortable inflammation.

MBT: "The Anti Shoe"

· The Claim: MBT, or Masai Barefoot Technology, claims to mimic uneven terrain thanks to their signature rolling sole, effectively transforming the cement, asphalt and tile surfaces people primarily walk on throughout the day into the natural surfaces that make hiking and trail-walking so physically beneficial. The idea is that by forcing muscles to work harder, they revert to their natural function of absorbing shock to protect joints and improve balance. The wearer gradually gains better posture and a more toned physique.

· What the Doctor Says: Dr. Youner says that MBTs offer a way to improve certain conditions such as heel pain, plantar fasciitis and bunions but can alternately cause tendonitis. "If you overwear them, they will cause tendonitis, there are no two ways about it," explains Dr. Youner, adding that many people misunderstand the use of MBTs.

"Similar to custom arch supports, the user undergoes an adjustment period where they gradually increase the amount of time they wear MBTs beginning with half an hour per day. That undermines the appeal of a weight loss program that requires no additional effort on the user's part."

Orthotebb Health Shoes: "You've Never Felt Better!"

· The Claim: Orthotebb Health Shoes were invented by a physician to offer relief from pain caused by footwear while simultaneously providing the benefits of a calorie-burning workout akin to climbing stairs. They boast the ability to trim and tone legs, hips, abs, buttocks, and love handles; lessen the pain of plantar fasciitis; improve posture and back pain; improve circulation and burn calories to lose weight. Like MBTs, they feature a rocker sole that places the center of gravity forward.

· What the Doctor Says: Drs. Youner and Sergi actually prescribe Orthotebb Health Shoes to patients, but not for weight loss. "These shoes are very helpful for patients with severe arthritis, plantar fasciitis and heel pain. They are to be used by those with foot problems, not the general public," advises Dr. Youner, adding that any shoe lower in the heel than it is in the forefoot risks overstretching the Achilles tendon, which frequently leads to tendonitis.

Arcopedico Health Shoe: "The Most Comfortable Shoes on Earth"

· The Claim: Arcopedico shoes emphasize their ability to go extra easy on tired, overworked feet that need a break. Different from standard shoes where the total weight of the body rests on about three points, the foot rests on the entire surface area of the Arcopedico insole resulting in less tiring of the foot arch and the elimination of blisters, calluses and curvature of the big toe. Additionally, they exercise the foot, strengthen the muscles, assist the healthy circulation and ensure comfort while walking. Arcopedico shoes feature a handmade upper fashioned from a breathable weave of fiber thread and molded PVC soles ergonomically designed to maintain cushioned walking with perfect posture.

· What Dr. Youner Says: According to Dr. Youner, Arcopedico's uppers offer no support. "They are good for people doing chores around the house since their function is comparable to a slipper," says Dr. Youner. She added that since Arcopedicos lack a rigid heel counter, they are unable to control a person's foot and should not be worn for hurried or long distance walks.

Dr. Youner's patients often ask about the pros and cons of wearing popular shoes that promise a better physique or a healthier lifestyle. Her best advice is that the most important thing is to understand completely how they are supposed to be used - often people don't recognize the part they should be playing.

Dr. Sergi agrees "There is no shortcut to achieving a healthy lifestyle, no matter what route a person chooses, it's going to take some work," he explains. "Many of the shoes at the heart of this trend actually do offer some benefits, but when used incorrectly the wearer can wind up with more problems than she started out with." Instead, they suggest people who would like to improve their health, but aren't sure about investing in a new pair of shoes, wear supportive sneakers they already own and work to take 10,000 steps a day.

About Dr. Johanna Youner, DPM, FACFAS

Dr. Johanna S. Youner is successfully following her lifelong ambition of combining health and beauty as an attending podiatric physician at New York University Downtown Hospital and in private practice for over 17 years. The techniques of foot care and foot health she and her staff at Park Avenue Podiatric Associates employ are cutting edge, using innovative yet safe techniques for foot problems.

Dr. Youner is a Board Certified (ABPS) foot surgeon and a graduate of California College of Podiatric Medicine (1990), where she earned her Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, as well as Barnard College (1983), where she was accredited a Batchelor of Arts in Philosophy. She is also a member of and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medicine Association (APMA) and trained in surgical residency at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Dr. Youner makes regular appearances in the media. She has been featured on Good Day New York, Reader's Digest, New York Times and Harper's Bazaar.

About Dr. Emanuel Sergi, DPM

Dr. Emanuel Sergi is an attending physician at NYU Downtown Hospital and Gramercy Park Surgery Center where he performs surgical management of foot and ankle disorders. He is also in private practice with Park Avenue Podiatric Associates in Manhattan. Dr. Sergi is a graduate of St. Francis College where he obtained a degree of Bachelor of Science with a Chemistry Minor. He went on to attend the New York College of Podiatric Medicine where he earned the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).

Dr. Sergi completed his Primary Podiatric Medical and Surgical Residency at NYU Downtown Hospital. His strong work ethic and concerned bedside manner earned him the title of Chief Resident. Dr. Sergi is also trained extensively in the treatment of Diabetic Wounds at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City. He is a highly skilled surgeon who focuses on a more aesthetic appearance to his surgical work.

About Park Avenue Podiatric Associates

Dr. Joanna Youner, DPM, FACFAS and her partner Dr. Emanuel Sergi, DPM are cutting edge foot care specialists who take an aesthetic approach to curing all foot related ailments. Dr. Youner is a Board Certified (ABPS) foot surgeon and a graduate of California College of Podiatric Medicine (1990), as well as Barnard College (1983). She is also a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medicine Association (APMA) and an attending podiatric surgeon at the New York University Hospital.

Dr. Emanuel Sergi is a graduate of St. Francis College where he obtained a degree of Bachelor of Science with a Chemistry Minor. He went on to attend the New York College of Podiatric Medicine where he earned the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). Dr. Sergi is an attending physician at NYU Downtown Hospital and Gramercy Park Surgery Center.

During his Residency, Dr. Sergi also trained extensively in the treatment of Diabetic Wounds at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City. Dr. Youner and Dr. Sergi combine health with beauty by performing surgery with a cosmetic approach leaving a more aesthetic scar. For more information about Park Avenue Podiatric Associates, please visit

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