Because they have traditionally played the role of homemaker, women have been on their feet a lot more than men. And today, with more women entering the workforce and wearing shoes like high heels, their foot problems are only aggravated.
Some general guidelines:
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 may be:
- 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.
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 foot “breakdown.”
The expectant mother often experiences more than ordinary swelling of her feet and ankles, which can aggravate existing foot conditions and promote inflammation or irritation. Pregnancy also triggers the release of hormones that enhance loose ligaments, which can contribute to foot strain. If problems develop, contact our office.
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.