Women's Feet in Sugar Land
Women need to pay attention to foot care to avoid subjecting themselves
to unnecessary foot problems, particularly those that might be caused
by improper footwear and hosiery.
High Heels: Use and Abuse
Podiatrists generally find high heels to be biomechanically and orthopedically
unsound. There are medical, postural, and safety faults of such heels.
We know, for example, that 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 follow the fashion trend.
In a Gallup Poll, 37% of the women surveyed said they continue to wear
high heels, even though they are uncomfortable.
Toward Greater Comfort
There are ways to relieve some of the abusive effects of wearing high heels;
women can limit the time they wear them, for example, alternating with
good-quality oxford-type shoes or flats for part of the day. High heels
that are too tight compound the abuse. It's a good idea to buy shoes
in the afternoon, since feet tend to increase in size later in the day.
Women have other heel-size choices, fortunately. They don't have to
endure pain and compromise their foot health. The key is wearing the right
shoe for the right activity -- and that means varying heel height.
For example, there are comfortable and attractive "walking" pumps
(also called "comfort" or "performance" pumps) for
women for work and social activities. The shoe manufacturers who have
introduced them seek a marriage of fashion considerations and comfort,
offering fashionable pumps with athletic shoe-derived construction, with
reinforced heels and wider toe room. They are using space-age materials,
like long-lasting memory cushioning that acts as a shock absorber. And
the soles are more pliable. At least three lines of walking pumps have
the American Podiatric Medical Association's Seal of Acceptance.
Several companies have also designed footwear for certain athletic activities,
including aerobics, specifically for women. Perhaps the best shoe for
women, from an orthopedic point of view, is a walking shoe with ties (not
a slip-on), a Vibram type composition sole, and a relatively wider heel,
no more than a half or three-quarters of an inch in height -- even though
such a shoe may not be widely acceptable in the work place.
Women who always wear nylon hosiery are also inviting foot problems. Nylon
is occlusive -- it 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 to grow. (Pantyhose
aren't the only apparel that cause excessive perspiration; the dress
boots and shoe boots many women don in cold weather shouldn't be worn
all day.) Nylon, which tends to be abrasive, is even more so when it's
damp. In a tight shoe that's already irritating, it offers little
protection against blisters. Support hose, because they're so much
tighter, can be even worse.
Inexpensive nylon pantyhose can also cause forefoot problems, because the
stretch mechanism constricts 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.
A better quality nylon will provide a better fit, and the better the fit,
the less likely it is that cramping will occur. Women's feet have
grown larger because of improved health care and nutrition. The one-size-fits-all
stocking no longer is the universal answer, if it ever was. Attention
to proper fit is essential.
Pregnant women need to observe good foot health to prevent pain and discomfort.
Since the body undergoes changes and acquires a new weight-bearing stance,
women should wear shoes with broad-based heels that provide support and
absorb shock. Additional body weight also calls for more support, to prevent
The expectant mother often experiences swelling of her feet and ankles
which can aggravate existing conditions and promote inflammation or irritation.
Pregnancy also triggers the release of hormones which enhance laxity in
ligaments, which can contribute to foot strain. If problems develop, one
should see a podiatric physician.
Women Over 65
As we age, the fat pads on the bottom of the feet tend to deteriorate.
Some foot problems can be alleviated by wearing properly fitted, well-constructed
shoes -- shoes which provide cushioning and have a soft, flexible upper
that will conform to the shape of your feet. Leather shoes which "breathe"
and will reduce the possibility of skin irritation are also important.
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, there is a special
need to keep their feet warm in cold weather, to prevent frostbite or
Self treatment is generally not advisable. Over-the-counter preparations
contain acids or chemicals that destroy skin cells, and it takes an expert
to destroy abnormal skin cells (warts) without also destroying surrounding
healthy tissue. Self treatment with such medications especially should
be avoided by people with diabetes and those with cardiovascular or circulatory
disorders. Never use them in the presence of an active infection.
Whether the sources are congenital problems, high heels, poorly fitting
shoes, or other maltreatment, women are subject to a number of foot problems
(most of which can also occur to men.)
Achilles Tendinitis: inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the link between
the calf muscle and heel bone. Those who wear high heels regularly can
expect to acquire shortened tendons; switching to low heels for strenuous
physical activity without appropriate warm-up exercises creates an ideal
scenario for Achilles Tendinitis.
Bunions: misaligned big toe joints which become swollen and tender. Bunions
tend to be familial, but the tendency can be aggravated by shoes that
are too narrow in the forefoot and toe. Hammertoe: a condition in which
the toe is contracted in a claw-like position. Although the condition
usually stems from muscle imbalance, it is often aggravated by ill-fitting
shoes, socks, or hosiery that cramp the toes.
Metatarsalgia: general pain in the ball of the foot; often caused by wearing
high heels. Neuromas: enlarged, benign growths of nerves, most commonly
between the third and fourth toes. They may stem, in part, from ill-fitting
shoes, resulting in pain, burning, tingling or numbness between the toes
and in the ball of the foot. Treatment includes orthotic devices and/or
steroid injections, and sometimes surgery.
Plantar Fasciitis: inflammation of the long band of connective tissue running
from the heel to the ball of the foot, a main cause of rear-foot pain.
This condition is sometimes caused by shoes that cramp the feet, especially
in the arch area. Pump Bump (Haglund's Deformity): a bone enlargement
at the back of the heel bone, in the area where the Achilles tendon attaches
to the bone. The deformity generally is the result of faulty biomechanics
causing increased motion of the heel bone against the shoe counter.