I have 90-year-old feet.
At least that’s what my foot surgeon told me in 2004 when he opened me up to remove floating bone fragments from an old break, arthritic spurs and cysts around my ankle. I was told that I needed to get orthotics and treat my feet with more care.
Did I listen? Sort of.
I got properly fitted for running shoes that support my high arches and pronation, and I had orthotics made for everyday shoes—but quickly found that they didn’t fit into anything cute. The good doctor never said anything about high heels, so I felt that technically they were still fair game. Because, boy oh boy, I love my heels.
I subscribe to the Oprah School of Heel Wearing: I have my 15-minute heels and my two-hour heels. My 15-minute heels are sky-high creations of fabulosity that are designed for walking into a room, wowing a crowd and sitting my butt down for the rest of the night; my two-hour heels are rare gems (blessed be wedges and hidden platforms!) that are great for events where on-and-off mingling is required but chairs are in sight. There are few situations in which I can survive standing-room only occasions in heels.
What I hadn’t considered until recently is that not only do heels hurt my 90-year-old feet something fierce, but they may also be hurting my knees, hips, lower back and spine. I really, really like my 41-year-old knees, hips and back and want to take good care of them all, so I’m going to heed the Ontario Chiropractic Association’s advice (starting now):
- Shop for new shoes at the right time of day. Later in the day, your feet swell thanks to a combination of walking around on them and water-retention—and it’s even worse in the summer months. Be sure you try on potential new shoes in the evenings when your feet are at their worst to really test them for fit and comfort.
- Be prepared for long days (and nights). Your feet need you to use common sense. Do you have a conference to attend? Or are you planning a big night out dancing with your girlfriends? Consider putting padded cushions in the front of your shoes to provide added support on the balls of your feet, or perhaps bring a spare. I like Tieks ballet flats because they fold up small, come with a carry case, feel good and look great with everything. No, they don’t have arch support but they’ll provide instant relief after several hours in heels!
- Don’t let your heels take all the blame. Those gorgeous Louboutins aren’t the only possible culprit lurking in your shoe closet; ill-fitting running shoes or runners that don’t support your individual foot’s needs, and even rubber flip flops and sandals—neither of which usually have any arch support—can also do their share of damage to your joints and lower back. After my ankle surgery, I started buying my running shoes a specialty shop because their sales people are trained in basic gait assessment*. According to the Ontario Chiropractic Association, whether you have high or low arches reflects the type of shoe you need to ensure you have proper support. The top three things to keep in mind are the shape, construction and midsole. If you go into a store to buy runners and they don’t at least ask you to remove your own shoes and walk back and forth a couple of times, leave. If they can’t see what your feet need, then they can’t help you select the right shoe.
- Lever your body’s built-in shock absorbers. Also known as your arches. If you wet your feet and walk across the floor, do you see the entire outline of your foot, or just the heel and ball of your foot? If you see your whole foot, you have low arches and you definitely need to look for shoes with arch support.
- Watch out for wide loads. Er, I mean wide feet. I have seriously wide feet (we’re talking D/E width)—and my bunions don’t help. If you’re like me, you need to know that there are brands out there that offer wider widths, though you may have to go to specialty stores on occasion and they can be more expensive. Even running shoes come in wide widths!
*Keep in mind that a chiropractor is your best bet to properly assess your step and gait to recommend the ideal type of shoe for your stride. Visit www.chiropractic.on.ca find a local chiropractor if you don’t already have one, and for more information on bones, muscles, joints and the central nervous system.
Now that your dogs are barkin’, as my mother would say, how’d you like to win $100 worth of awesome stuff courtesy of the Ontario Chiropractic Association to keep your feet feeling fine? Comment on this post and tell us your best foot-health secret for your mandatory entry, and for a bonus entry, tweet a link to this post with something really catchy (don’t forget to leave room for the #CANwin hashtag). Just be sure to pop back here and share the URL of your tweet in the comments, too. This contest is open to Canadian residents only and ends July 31, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. ET.
DISCLAIMER: I was compensated for this post, and used several tips provided by the Ontario Chiropractic Association. However, all opinions expressed are my own.