Women often sacrifice the comfort of their feet for fashion. Whether it’s high heels, flip flops, or the latest trendy boot, we squeeze our feet into shoes that don’t provide proper support and sometimes end up causing us pain. Surprisingly, there is a reason why we do this even if we’re not aware of it. According to a recent survey from London, nearly half of men notice a woman’s feet when meeting her for the first time — and as many as a third judge her or analyze her personality based on what they see. This begins to explain why more than 50% of women are embarrassed by their feet, says a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association.
“It has a lot to do with cosmetic influences on women,” says Crystal Holmes, DPM, a podiatrist and clinical instructor of podiatry at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. “We also have more affection for shoes and shopping and fashion, and shoes play a big role in fashion, so having feet that might be considered cosmetically displeasing is an issue.”
The major culprit are high heels according to Dr. Holmes. “If you have heels more than 2 inches high, it increases the forefoot pressure under the ball of your foot by seven times. So an average woman of 120 to 155 pounds with heels over 2 inches high has roughly 700 to 800 pounds of pressure in that area. So it makes sense that it should be painful.”
So what’s the cure? First, don’t ignore foot pain. See a podiatrist. Dr. Holmes’ advise is to “Seek help early. Pain is not normal. Pain is your body telling you something is wrong and you should get help.” Secondly, wash your feet well and keep them dry. Pay extra attention to your delicate toes. One of my favorite things to do is to soak my feet in hot tap water and epsom salts at the end of a busy day. You also absorb magnesium from the epsom salts which helps relieve anxiety.
Lastly, and most importantly, buy shoes that fit right. Look for proper arch support or add inserts if the shoes don’t come with the proper padding. When you wear high heels, don’t wear them as often or as long. I have several pairs of “sitting pretty” shoes that hurt to walk in but I wear them when I know I’ll be sitting most of the time.