The Urban Dictionary defines this as “the vain act of wearing shoes that kill your feet for the self satisfaction of looking cute!” However did you know that 25% of your bones are in your feet? Very few people do but it’s true. What this means though is that it’s really important to look after your feet. The problems go further than your feet too. If any of the fragile bones in your feet become misaligned your whole body could be affected, causing knee, hip or back problems, in turn impacting on your muscular structure and posture.
Interestingly, it appears that nine out of ten women wear shoes that are too small for them.
As a general rule, if shoes are chosen that fit well, and they are worn properly, then it is possible to wear those gorgeous heels and strut them in style without killing your feet! However, heels are getting higher, and ultra-high heels can lead to everything from ankle sprains to chronic pain. It will help to take a closer look at the problems of the heights, styles, and woes of today's major footwear styles and the various problems that they can cause you.
Culprit • High Heels
Problem 1 • Ultra-high heels are notorious for causing a painful knot on the back of the heel due to the rigid material pressing on and causing a bony deformity that is permanent and sometimes called the ‘Pump Bump’. It also leads to blisters, swelling, bursitis, and even pain in the Achilles.
Solution • Ice, orthotics, and heel pads may provide pain relief along with better shoes.
Problem 2 • Ultra-high heels force the feet into a position that puts stress on the ball of the foot. At this critical joint, the long metatarsal bones meet the pea-shaped sesamoid bones, and the toe bones (phalanges). Too much pressure can inflame these bones or the nerves that surround them. Chronic stress to the foot bones can even lead to hairline fractures.
Solution • Go Lower. Switching to lower heels will help you avoid problems with the metatarsal bones. The lower you go, the more natural your foot position will be. It is recommended that you choose heels that are no more than 2 inches high -- and even those should be worn in moderation.
Problem 3 • Any high heel, particularly a stiletto boosts the risk of an ankle sprain. The most common problem is a lateral sprain, which happens when you roll onto the outside of your foot. This stretches the ankle ligaments beyond their normal length. A severe sprain may even tear the ligaments and increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Solution • A chunky heel that has more surface area and distributes your weight more evenly. This makes the feet much more stable when compared to stilettos or spindle heels. Although thick high heels can still put stress on the ball of your foot, they may reduce the tripping hazard by minimizing your wobble.
Culprit • Ballet Flats
Problem • This type of shoe is often compared to walking on thin cardboard, as there is no arch support whatsoever. This prevents the feet from functioning at their best, and can lead to knee, hip, and back problems. Poor arch support is also associated with the highly painful foot condition known as plantar fasciitis.
Solution: Orthotic Inserts/ Orthotic Insoles
If you love the look of ballet flats, orthotic inserts will help prevent mild foot pain. Heel pads can provide extra cushioning for achy heels. Orthotic inserts can ease a whole range of foot pains and problems and Podiatrists recommend them to provide arch support and reduce pressure on the more sensitive areas
Problem • Flip-flops offer very little protection and the risk of getting splinters or other foot injuries is higher when the feet are so exposed. People with diabetes should not wear flip-flops, because simple cuts and scrapes can lead to serious complications. In addition, many flip-flops provide no arch support. Like ballet flats, they aggravate plantar fasciitis and may cause long-term problems with the knees, hips, or back.
Solution • It is best to avoid these if possible but if worn, regular rest is required. It is possible to buy similar but expensive sporty sandals or toning shoes for a more intense workout while walking but these shoes differ a great deal as they have good arch support, although other beneficial claims are hard to substantiate.
Problem • Although these are still not recommended, a flatter platform shoe may put less strain on your feet than its peers.
Solution • Look for a wide wedge or platform that is nearly parallel with the ground. This will lessen the pressure on the ball of the foot. However, the rigid sole still remains a barrier to the natural walking motion.
Culprit: Pointed Toe Shoes
These might be stylish, but shoes with ‘pointy toes’ obviously squeeze the entire front of your foot together into the narrow space. After time, this can cause nerve pain, bunions, blisters, and hammertoes. Some women even develop bruises under their toenails from the constant pressure.
Problem 1 • Bunions often result from wearing shoes that have pointed toes. A bunion is a painful lump at the base of the big toe, which may cause the toe to bend unnaturally. It forms when the tissue or bone at the base joint gets displaced. This may happen after years of abnormal pressure and movement and ‘pointy-toed’ shoes are a very common factor, which explains the very high prevalence of bunions among women, as opposed to men who hardly suffer.
Problem 2 • When they are combined with high heels, pointed toes have further problems that occur as a result – particularly toe deformities. High-heeled pointed shoes push too much body weight toward the toes and then squeeze them together. Over time, the result can be hammertoe, which are abnormal bends in the toe joints that can gradually become rigid. Surgery is sometimes needed to relieve the pain of severe hammertoe. Crowding can also cause other toe deformities, along with continuous shoe friction, leading to painful corns and calluses.
Solution • The solution for both these two problems is the same – simply to wear a shoe with a wider toe box. If that’s not suitable, then select shoes that slope to a point beyond the tips of your toes and then they will not pinch or restrict – particularly if selected in a softer material,
Who would have thought there were so many ways of damaging your feet? Every woman wants to wear stylish shoes – heels included – but these are useful guidelines and the most important one as ever is ‘avoid excess’. In addition don’t forget that orthotic insoles can help! Wearing these can ease pressure and spread your weight better over the length of your foot while you are wearing fashionable footwear, and immensely decrease the risk of damage to your feet.