On a high-tech runway, podiatrists get to the bottom of a patient's pain. Force plates imbedded in the floor measure pressure points in the foot.
One other common problem -- heel pain. Often, the cause is walking in completely flat shoes.
"Everything I wear has a little heel. I don't wear anything flat," shoe lover Rita Schlessinger says.
For some patients, a new style may be just what the doctor ordered.
"Every person is an individual and every foot and foot type is like a fingerprint. So every shoe type is going to be different for every patient," says Kathya Zinszer, D.P.M. at Temple University's School of Podiatric Medicine in Philadelphia.
With a motion detection system, cameras on the outside of the runway send out infrared light. They reflect movement of sensors placed on patients' ankles, toes and legs. That provides a 3-D image of the patient in mid-stride.
"A lot of patients who come in to see us are having a lot of lower back pain or knee pain and it really starts from the foot," Dr. Zinszer says.
Doctors say any heel over two inches changes the body's center of gravity. Over time, some patients may begin to feel the effects. But that doesn't mean high heels have to take a hike. By occasionally switching styles, you've got a better chance of staying pain and injury-free.
Temple University researchers say with tools available at the Gait Study Center, doctors are able to recommend the appropriate shoes for patients -- before they become injured.
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