Stories tagged shoes

They’re not just bad for politicians – they’re bad for your feet.

Sep
24
2007

Crocs: Bright, definitely.  But dangerous?  Image courtesy roland via Flickr.
Crocs: Bright, definitely. But dangerous? Image courtesy roland via Flickr.
As both someone who has enjoyed reading previous posts about how dangerous shoes such as flip-flops and Heelys can be, and also someone who finds “Crocs” to be one ugly pair of shoes, a recent article about the dangers of wearing Crocs on escalators caught my attention.

Apparently, the grip and softness that Crocs are known for are the perfect combination to get feet caught in the teeth at the top or bottom of an escalator, or along the sides as you travel up or down. The Washington Metro has even gone so far as to post signs warning riders about wearing Crocs (and Croc knock-offs) on its escalators. Apparently the soft grippy shoes can grip the sides of the escalators and get twisted and pulled under. Or they get caught if the person wearing them does not step over the teeth at the end of the escalator ride.

Makes me wonder though – in all these cases…is the shoe really to blame? Or is it the owner? Or is it just bad luck?

Jul
16
2007

It only looks cute. The smell here is very serious: A specially trained German shoe-smelling cat nearly perishes in the line of duty.     (Photo by tomroyal on flickr.com)
It only looks cute. The smell here is very serious: A specially trained German shoe-smelling cat nearly perishes in the line of duty. (Photo by tomroyal on flickr.com)
German police broke into a Kaiserslautern apartment this week after neighbors reported an extremely foul smell seeping into the stairwell. The shutters had been closed up for nearly a week, and mail was collecting in the unit’s box, so the police were prepared to find a very dead body in the apartment. They found no such thing.

What the officers did discover was a pile of very dirty laundry next to a pair of very stinky feet, which were attached to a man who was simply asleep.

How did this happen to the man? Well, foot odor, technically referred to as “stank,” is caused by sweaty feet and bacteria. A warm, moist foot is an ideal place for bacteria to live, and while the mere presence of bacteria on a foot won’t cause a bad smell, the waste they produce from consuming dead skin and sweat will. As your feet get sweatier, more and more bacteria grow down there, and they produce more and more waste, creating an increasingly potent stank.

One of the main culprits of foot odor is brevibacteria. Bervibacteria loves the spots between your toes, and the dead skin on the soles of your feet, and it produces methanethiol, which smells like stinky cheese. This is no coincidence, as stinky cheese gets its aroma from brevibacteria too.

Now, if any of you are in doubt as to whether this foot-based bacterial chemical factory can be so powerful that it could convince your neighbors that you are decomposing in your living room, let me relate to you the true story of my best friend’s freshman roommate. This roommate, who we will call “Jeff,” had feet of such potent stank that the whole hallway of the dormitory smelled like a gym shoe by October. It was so bad that the floor RA threatened to evict my friend and Jeff from the room on health grounds unless the smell was cleared up, “whatever it was.” It is extremely unlikely that Jeff was dead and decomposing, too, because he was often seen walking around, or drinking. I was able to experience the smell firsthand – walking into the room was like having a sweatsock taped over your nose, and this was when “it was starting to get better.” Jeff, however, never noticed the smell, and was convinced that a joke was being played on him.

The moral here, obviously, is to wash your feet often and buy well-ventilated footwear, or else the police will break into your house looking for your dead body. And nobody wants that.

My feet smell like baby roses, but you may be interested in this.

Thanks, neighbors.

Jun
16
2007

As I was putting on my shoes yesterday morning, I noticed that the right one didn't fit quite like it should, like someone had out a cotton ball in the toe, or something. I took it off and gave it a shake, but nothing came out. I'm not much of a problem solver, so I just put the shoe back on. The cotton ball was still there, but it had moved a little. I took the shoe off again, and gave it a really good shake. This fell out:

Aaaah!: A wolf spider. Also known as a were-wolf spider, or freakin' Godzilla.  (photo by ATIS547)
Aaaah!: A wolf spider. Also known as a were-wolf spider, or freakin' Godzilla. (photo by ATIS547)

I don't feel like this picture I found does the wolf spider justice. It looked like Shaq's hand fell out of my shoe.

Anyhow, I was surprised, the wolf spider was surprised, everyone was surprised.
Perhaps we shouldn't have been, though.

Like humans, wolf spiders are found pretty much all over the world (they are grouped by the family "Lycosidae"). Also like humans, they are skilled daytime hunters (they generally chase their prey down, instead of trapping it). Unlike humans, wolf spiders will "inject venom freely if provoked." The venom isn't strong, but it can cause a painful bite. Fortunately, I was wearing sock armor, and my toes were well protected against a poisonous retaliation.

For everyone who doesn't already have them living in their shoes, you'll be happy to know that wolf spiders are more or less harmless and not aggressive towards people.

Jun
06
2007

Sign of the times: More stores, malls and public places are posting signs banning the use of "heeling' shoes, shoes that have a wheel built into the heel to allow them to be used like a roller skate. (Photo by voteprime)
Sign of the times: More stores, malls and public places are posting signs banning the use of "heeling' shoes, shoes that have a wheel built into the heel to allow them to be used like a roller skate. (Photo by voteprime)
In my job on working on the floor of the Science Museum of Minnesota, I see more and more young visitors rolling their way along with the new “heeling” shoes. They have a roller wheel equipped in the heel that allows the wear to scoot around like on roller skates.

Some of the floor staff can’t stand the shoes and quickly ask visitors to stop using them. If it’s not busy, I’m a little more forgiving, but when the museum is crowded, it’s a problem just waiting to happen.

Now a group on international doctors are chiming in…they don’t like Heelys (the brand name of the shoes). The list of injuries incurred from heeling incidents around the world includes broken wrists, arms and ankles; dislocated elbows and even a few cracked skulls.

A hospital in Ireland recorded 67 treated injuries to children over a 10-week period last summer. In the U.S., there were roughly 1,600 emergency room visits last year caused by “heeling” shoes, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Crash landing: National statistics show that there were at least 1,600 emergency room visits last year in the U.S. due to the use of "heeling" shoes. (photo by stevejlovegrove)
Crash landing: National statistics show that there were at least 1,600 emergency room visits last year in the U.S. due to the use of "heeling" shoes. (photo by stevejlovegrove)
All of those incidents have led the American Academy of Orthopeadic Surgeons to put out recommendations that heelers wear helmets, wrist protectors and knee and elbow pads while their zigging around.

Further investigation by the medial organizations has found that many of the “heeling” injuries happen to kids new to the using shoe. Still, many schools and shopping malls have banned use of the shoes for safety concerns.

Overall, since being introduced to the market in 2000, more than 10 million pairs of “heeling” shoes have been sold, making it one of the hottest new segments of the footware business. And officials from Heelys this spring addressed the issue by noting that their shoes are statistically safer than skateboarding, inline skating and swimming. Safety instructions are included with each new pair of “heeling” shoes that are sold.

What do you think? Are these new shoes a problem? Should they be banned? What could be done to make them safer? Is it no big deal? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.