Dreaming of the right to live in flip flops? Are you counting down the days to sandal season with the same relish as your kids have for the last day of school? Summer is nearly here and that means strippy heels and open toed slingbacks are coming out of the closet.
Finally, a chance to let your feet breathe after months of confinement! But if the idea of baring your toes keeps you shivering in knee high boots long into spring, you’re not alone. Women tend to be very hard on our feet, from squeezing them into torturously high heels and narrow points to pounding the pavement in shoes that lack the proper arch support. Years of trekking can give you a lot of pain, and leave your feet in no shape to be seen. When a paraffin pedicure simply isn’t enough, there are options to alleviate the physical and mental discomfort of bearing your not-quite-ready-for-the-beach feet.
Common complaints are bunions, hammertoes, corns and calluses. Despite popular belief, shoes don’t cause bunions or hammertoes, but they can be an uncomfortable trigger to indicate that you have them. If you have persistent foot pain, and find yourself limping often, go see a podiatrist. A bunionectomy can be performed to shift the first metatarsal bone that causes pressure on the side of the foot and leads to developing a bunion. This is certainly not a pleasant operation and will involve some time off your feet, as well as in sensible shoes.
Hammertoes can cause your smaller toes to bend inward and downward, due to a muscle or tendon imbalance. This also increases your likelihood of developing corns because the toes don’t sit flat, and may rub against the roof of your shoes. Corticosteroid injections can be administered to ease inflammation and therefore pain.
Shoes that tend to rub against or place pressure on skin can cause corns or calluses. Corns show up on your toes, while calluses form on your heels. Over-the-counter remedies such as non-medicated pads can offer some temporary relief. A great pedicure can remove the corns and calluses and smooth down the skin to get your feet in better shape, and you can do it yourself every one or two weeks for maintenance.
Strappy sandals and moisture are a bad combination, causing feet to shift, and skin to become chafed and irritated. Baby powder or medicated powder can help keep your feet dry and fend off slipping and sliding. If you tend to perspire excessively, try a scented powder or an odor absorbing variety. Avoid wearing shoes that are too loose so that your feet don’t slosh around in a pool of sweat and stretch them out further. Flimsy shoes, rubber flip flops, and cheap shoes that offer no support are not meant for city wear, especially when walking on concrete, pot holes, and sidewalk cracks.
If foot surgery is necessary, your doctor can correct the root of the problem by fixing the bone that pushes against the skin and causes it to rub against shoes. But having gratuitous foot surgery just so you can wear the latest fashion in footwear strikes me as somewhat “ass backward” thinking. You should buy shoes that fit your feet, rather than make your feet fit the shoes you want to wear. Carrie Bradshaw made it seem normal to wear shoes like stilts walking around the city. However, women of a certain age may need to relegate killer heels that bind, squish and pummel toes and fallen arches to what I like to call, “short contact” shoes. You know what I mean girls – the kind that sit in your closet season after season waiting for that perfect opportunity to wear them outside and when (or in most cases, if) they ever see the light of day, it is merely to trot from your building into a taxi to a cocktail reception for an hour at the most.
I was walking on the west side last summer in back of a young girl wearing strippy bronze cork wedges with a slope to rival Marmot. She proceeded to hobble across the street, and crashed to the ground after stumbling in a dip in the paved street. I would bet that those shoes went to the resale shop the very next day for some other unsuspecting fashionista to try her luck with them!
DIY FOOT PATROL
Dr. Scholl’s® For Her Rough Skin Remover – A mini handheld sander for your feet – not unlike the kind you get at Home Depot to polish your hardwood floors. www.drscholls.com
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Foot Cream and Cracked Heel Treatment, both come in handy 2 oz. tubes, www.neutrogena.com
Amlactin Foot Cream Therapy contains lactic acid to smooth calluses away, www.amlactin.com
Gel inserts and pads designed to cushion the ball of your foot can make a pair of killer heels feel like cozy bedroom slippers, and help relieve knee and back pain in the process. Hue Fabulous Feet has cute fashion styles in prints and solids, www.hue.com