There’s a lot to love about walking to and from work. But there’s also a lot not to love about the footwear women must accept if they want to avoid the ranks of the walking wounded.

It’s easy to make a case for walking. It beats going to the gym to exercise and compensates for food indulgences in Toronto, the urban equivalent of a culinary United Nations.

Walkers are spared the crush of people on public transit and they do their bit to save the planet from cars that spew pollution. Walking gives you time to think. The case against walking, by comparison, is admittedly frivolous. And it can be summed up in three words: Ugly, expensive shoes.

Shaffu Sharma, a specialist in foot biomechanics and orthotics at the BioPed clinic near Eglinton and Bayview, has little sympathy for footwear fashionistas.

“Look at your foot,” she says. “It’s wide at the heel and at the front. By the time you design a shoe that feels good, accommodates your five toes and the spread of your foot when you stand up, the shoe has to be wide and the heel has to be blocky to keep you stable.”

There are stores that claim to sell attractive shoes that will not cripple after 15 minutes of energetic walking. Experience, however, suggests they are fibbing. A pair of sleek, costly black leather German-made pumps comes to mind. A half-hour into their inaugural walk I had to take a cab.

Sharma, unfortunately, confirms that committed walkers, who choose anything but good quality running shoes, are wasting their money and jeopardizing their foot health.

She conceded during a recent meeting that slingbacks, slides and delicate, strappy sandals are OK to wear once in a while. But then she pointed to several pairs of what can only be described as “practical” shoes for everyday use at home and in the office. Ugly? Yes. Expensive? Yes.

Necessary? “What you have there on your feet are bunions,” Sharma noted with brutal honesty. “They are there because of the shoes you’ve been wearing and there’s no way of stopping them from growing now that they’ve started.”

Misery, thy name is Adidas. Size 8.

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