When you hear the words “Comfort Shoes” usually the first images that come to mind are of Birkenstocks and “old lady” shoes. Certainly nothing fashion forward or trendy. For years women will suffer through foot pain and destroy their feet all in the name of Fashion.
(above: obviously not a comfort shoe)
Did you know that women tend to have more foot problems than men and that this is mostly a result of the shoes they wear?
Womens Health Magazine sites 5 Most Common Foot Problems in Women:
1. Bunions. A bony lump on the outer edge of your big toe. The lowest joint becomes misaligned, causing the end of the bone to jut out. Often caused by pointy heels that squash your toes.
2. Hammertoes. The joint of one of your toes (usually the second piggy) points upward instead of lying flat. A bunion, flat or high arches, or too-narrow shoes cause your big toe to butt up against the second toe, putting pressure on the digit and causing it to contract.
3. Corns and Calluses. Raised layers of thick, dead skin. On the tops of your toes they’re called corns; on the bottoms or sides of your feet they’re known as calluses. There’s too much pressure or friction on the feet, often due to ill-fitting shoes or a deformity, like a hammertoe.
4. Plantar Fasciitis. A stabbing or burning pain in your heel that’s often worse in the morning. The plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot, becomes inflamed. This can be triggered by the strain of having exceptionally flat or high arches, standing or walking all day long, being overweight, or doing intense physical activities.
5. Neuroma. Tingling, burning, or numbness in your foot. It may make you feel as if you’re walking on a pebble.
The bones of two toes–usually the third and fourth ones–rub against one another, pinching the nerve in between. Too-narrow shoes, which cram toes together, are often to blame.
There are several ways to prevent and ease the pain of these foot problems.
Wearing the right kind of shoes is a good start!
One of my favorite comfort shoe brands is Dana Davis. http://www.danadavis.com/Index.html
(above Dana Davis “primrose” heel in black)
“Named for the company’s owner Dana Davis, the brand was inspired by her quest to find exquisite, fashion-forward shoes that would reflect the most sophisticated designer tastes and still support the health of the wearer” Her shoes are so amazing no one would EVER know they are a comfort brand!
Taryn Rose is another great comfort shoe brand. “Founded by an orthopedic surgeon, Taryn Rose shoes have established a broad and loyal following and are appreciated around the world for their chic looks and fabulous fit. The inspiration for creating Taryn Rose shoes comes from the belief that fashion and function should translate into what women have wished for since shoes were invented: Style that’s comfortably sexy, day and night.”
Even Cole Haan has jumped on the Comfort bandwagon incorporating Nike Air Technology into their shoes, makeing high heels fit like sneakers!
The three major things you want in a good shoe are cushioning, arch support , and shock absorption.
As we age we lose padding in the ball of the foot where we carry up to seven times our body weight so it is very important to buy shoes with cushioning. A good test is to press your thumb along the ball of the foot area and arch of the shoe, if it springs back there’s good padding! Arch supports help ease pain by reducing the pressure on the nerves. Footwear with adequate shock absorption is especially important when walking on pavement or any hard surface. The impact of the feet hitting the ground is transmitted up the through the knees, legs, and lower back. Shoes with cushioning help absorb the impact of the feet striking the ground while walking, running or jumping. Shoes with shock absorbing soles not only prevent foot pain, but prevent knee pain and lower-back pain. Cork heels are made of a material that is great for shock absorption.
Another solution is to wear a transition/commuter shoe to get to and from your destination. Find a pair of cute flats with a thick sole and cushioning and wear them until you arrive at work or your event.
Never forget the importance of stretching and exercising your feet and toes. I found a great book “Fantastic Feet”which has really helped with some of my own foot pain by pilates instructor Aliesha George http://www.centerworks.com/foot-care-resources/personal-foot-care-solutions/
The book has “exercises specifically designed for feet in detailed instructions”. Aliesha says “We spend time exercising every other part of our body but don’t do much for our feet. We cram them into poorly fitting shoes, stand for long hours, pound the pavement to exercises our heart & lungs, and wear old and beloved “favorite” shoes that gave up supporting our feet a long time ago.”
Remember our feet are probably the most overused part of our body. They keep our hips and pelvis in alignment and create a center of balance that is essential to the health and well being of the upper body. Feet problems can lead to leg, lower back, hip and neck problems!
Take care of your feet and they will take care of you!