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Foot Care for 2011

January 3, 2011

Let’s kick off the year by re-emphasizing the importance of good foot care when wearing high heels.  If you would recall in my recent posts I talked about what we, as women, could do to take better care of our feet to avoid unnecessary discomfort and permanent damage.  Photo from Pharmacy at Hand.

The styles are becoming over and above the level of the high fashion mark.  Looks and designs are peaking our interest, far exceeding our expectation.  As we embark on new adventures for upgrading our shoe collection lets keep in mind the most important factors to today’s shoe buying guide:

  1. Make sure the shoes you are most interested in are the right size and offer  good and fit.
  2. If the shoe are too big, try a half size down.  If the shoe is too small, but it is your size, try a half size up. 
  3. Avoid shoes that appear to crush your feet.
  4. When trying on shoes, always use a stocking to avoid attracting other people’s foot bacteria and/or fungus.
  5. If you are wearing higher than 2 inches daily, practice taking your shoes off for at least an hour to let your feet rest.  Keep a pair of flats or sneakers at your desk.
  6. At the end of the day soak your feet using your favorite foot soaker and recommended products.  A good foot massage can be beneficial.

“Women do love their high heels, but if you wear them all the time, significant foot pain and other problems can ensue, either as a direct result of the heels or exacerbated by them,” says Morris Morin, DPM, director of podiatric medicine at the Hackensack University Medical Center.

Wearing shoes that are too tight and/or constrict your feet, they are taking away from the natural shape of your feet, thus you are creating problems that causes pain and can lead to bunions.  Podiatrist Stuart Mogul, DPM, says that constant wear of tight shoes that constrict your feet adds to the pain.  He also says that women who have bunions may also have what is called a displaced bone in the big toe also known as hammertoe.  The height of the heel and the point of the shoes can play a role in the pain that is felt.

The displaced bone is usually at the bottom of the big toe joint, which changes the way the foot “tracks” or acts during motion.  Mogul also said that if you put on a pair of high heels and pitched forward, the pressure placed on the bones increases and pain from the bunion gets worse.

Inegrating lower high heels and flats into your wardrobe is not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact you are basically taking a step towards saving the life of your feet.  You’re not stepping down from your favorite high heels, you’re simply giving yourself alternatives.

Corns and calluses are like a defense mechanism the feet go through to protect them from the assault we put our feet through when we wear our high heels.  These thickened layers of dead skin usually occur on the toes or sides of the foot where high heels are deemed the enemy.  Once they occur you’ll experience that pressure from shoes that do not fit comfortably can be a problem.  While wearing a lower heel shoe can help some, the solution may require a surgical procedure that helps straighten the “hammertoe.”

It’s true that nothing can lift the spirits like a sassy new pair of high heels.   But if it seems those heels were a lot more comfortable in your 20’s and 30’s then they are in your 40’s, 50’s, and beyond, you’re right.

Keep in mind that feet do change with our age, and some of the changes includes making wearing high heel less comfortable.  One of the most common changes our feet will go through includes a loss of fat in the bottom of the foot.

When we slip our feet into those strappy stiletto sandals and step down we are putting our weight on the spot where we have less protection.  In extreme cases involves having the bony ends of the foot grating down into the sole of the shoe with almost no protection at all, thus creating permanent damage to your feet.  Not only does this cause pain, but it may also increase your risk of stress fractures and osteoarthritis in the feet.

There are some doctors who actually make an attempt to repad the foot using injections of silicone or wrinkle filling injections like Restalyne, but experts says this method is not such a good idea.  Basically, these injections are not designed to take the pressure of the body in that capacity.

The American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society continues to warn women against these and other strictly cosmetic procedures for the feet.  Calling the trend alarming, they warn consumers of the risks that ensue — including infection, nerve injury, and difficulty walking.  These risks obviously and frequently outweigh benefits.

We know you love your high heels, so we won’t even hint at the fact that you’d be better off in sneakers.  At the same time, what good is that great pair of red patent-leather stilettos if all you can do is sit and admire them?

Here are some other suggestions from WebMD combined with advice from two of their experts, along with suggestions from the American Podiatric Association, to protect your feet:

  1. Get the best-fitting high heel possible.  While this may seem like a given, stop and think: How many pairs of high heels cause your feet to slide to the front, leaving a gap big enough for a small cell phone behind your heel?  Mogul says high heels that don’t fit properly cause the front of the foot to fly forward, creating more pressure — and pain — on toes. Look for narrow heels with a snug but not tight fit to correct the problem.
  2. Cushion, cushion, cushion. While a full-shoe insert can help, if you have pain in the ball of the foot — or you’ll be standing in your heels a long time — invest in silicone metatarsal pads. They look like flattened gummy bears, but they do a super job of shock absorption, says Morin.  “It’s like replacing the fat padding you lost.”
  3. Wear a thicker heel for stability. “A thicker heel will give you better balance and may help relieve some pressure by distributing the weight on your foot more evenly, says Morin.  Alternating heel heights can also help reduce problems with the Achilles tendon.
  4. Pay attention to the “slope” or “pitch” of the heel.  While some 4-inch heels will give you a straight drop down to the flatbed portion of the shoe, others will be a more gradual slope. This may be easier on the arch and might help relieve some pain in the ball of the foot.
  5. Wear open-toe high heels to relieve pressure on corns and calluses. See a podiatrist to have corns and calluses professionally removed and correct the problem that’s causing them. But if that’s not possible, opt for open-toe shoes to take pressure off inflamed areas.

Make 2011 a more comfortable year for wearing high heels.

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