Women invite foot problems with high heels. High heels may contribute to knee and back problems, disabling injuries in falls, shortened calf muscles, and an awkward, unnatural gait. In time, high heels may cause enough changes in the feet to impair their proper function. Most women admit high heels make their feet hurt, but they tolerate the discomfort in order to look taller, stylish, and more professional.
There are ways to relieve some of the abusive effects of high heels, however. Women can limit the time they wear them by alternating with good-quality oxford-type shoes or flats for part of the day. Tight-fitting high heels only compound the abuse.
Fortunately, women have other heel-size choices. Key is wearing the right shoe for the right activity - and that means varying heel height, and determining what heel is most suitable.
For example, there are comfortable and attractive "walking" pumps (also called "comfort" or "performance" pumps) for women for work and social activities. Several companies have also designed footwear for certain athletic activities, including aerobics, specifically for women.
Experts say the best shoes for women include:
A walking shoe with ties (not a slip-on).
A Vibram type composition sole.
A relatively wider heel, no more than a half or three-quarters of an inch in height.
Women who always wear nylon pantyhose expose themselves to a host of foot problems. Nylon doesn't breathe and the heat that it generates and traps causes excessive perspiration. A warm, damp area is an ideal place for fungal infections such as Athlete's foot.
Inexpensive nylon pantyhose can also cause forefoot problems, because they don't allow the normal expansion of the foot when walking, and may pull the toes backward when the pantyhose ride up. The cramping and pressure of the hose can contribute to ingrown toenails and hammertoes.
Women Over 65
Older women have more trouble with their feet than younger ones; fat pads on the bottom of the feet tend to deteriorate in the aging process. They can alleviate some foot problems by wearing properly fitted, well-constructed shoes that provide cushioning and have a soft, flexible upper that will conform to the shape of their feet. They also need leather shoes that "breathe" and can reduce the possibility of skin irritation.
Soles should be lightweight, with enough flexibility and shock-absorbing quality to provide solid footing and not be slippery. Low-heeled shoes provide greater stability, more protection for the feet, and greater comfort. Because older women often have circulatory problems, they have a special need to keep their feet warm in cold weather, to prevent frostbite or chilblains.
Nerve Surgery (Neuroma)
A neuroma is an abnormality of a nerve that has been damaged either by trauma or as a result of an abnormality of the foot. Neuromas most often in the ball of the foot, causing a pinched and inflamed nerve.
During neuroma procedures, an incision is made on the top of the foot in the location of the neuroma, usually between the second and third toes or between the third and fourth toes. After the nerve is located, the surgeon cuts and removes it.
For more information, check out our library of videos on foot and ankle conditions.