There is wisdom in the expression, My dogs are barkin'! for nearly 90% of the female population in England, according to the recent study of British women by the College of Podiatry. Women own an average of 17 pairs of shoes, while men have only 8; and for women from the ages of 18-24, at least one of those pair have 6" heels.
I don't imagine it's a surprise that one issue in the problems women have with their feet is pictured above. Any heel higher than 2" is a problem for most feet, and the longer you wear fashionably high heels, and the more frequently you wear them, the more risk you take. Balancing and walking gracefully in heels is an art that must be learned and practiced, which should be the first clue that wearing high heels is unnatural (yet lovely).
There it is. Above, a view of the delicate structure of our workhorse feet, as they are aligned in a fashionable shoe. There are 52 bones in our feet, which are 1/4 of all the bones in the human body. And each time your heel lifts off the ground as it takes a step, it forces the toes to carry one half of your body weight. An average American will take enough steps to equal about 115,000 miles in their lifetime. Another fact: 3 out of 4 Americans will experience serious foot problems in their lifetime, and most of them are women.
Nine out of ten women wear shoes that are too small for them, and they experience foot problems four times more than men. But the whole issue of foot pain and problems does not boil down to merely wearing high heels - cheap shoes, ones without a proper supportive bed or toe box, also are significant contributors to the problem.
Today we live in the era of celebrity doctors. Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz are two of the most visible. But another doc, this one a female podiatrist, is quickly gaining celebrity status. Meet Dr. Emily Splichal.
She's beautiful, she hails from rural North Dakota, and she's one of nine doctors at Gramercy Park Podiatry in New York. Splichal is 32 years old, and owns about a hundred pairs of high heels (she prefers ones with four or five inch heels; for the work environment, the 5'3" podiatrist wears a sobering 3" heel).
Dr. Emily Splichal has a new, self-published book: Everyday is Your Runway. It's a compilation of ideas for women with unhealthy shoe taste. Among her remedies are preventative measures, such as standing on golf balls for several minutes each morning and evening. She says that most of her patients are young women who mix alcohol with high heels. Once they have the accident, Emily says, the alcohol diminishes the pain so they keep walking or dancing, causing further damage.
Splichal also performs some cosmetic surgury, such as toe-shortening. If one toe is much longer than the others, and you're a celebrity being constantly photographed, that can be a jarring image. Splichal compares that cosmetic surgery to rhinoplasty. She also does inject filler into the ball of the foot for cushioning (something that we lose as we age). But she draws the line at "toe tucks", the slimming surgery that fixes a too plump toe.
The simple solution? Common sense advice from non-celebrity podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons: Wear sensible shoes. Moreover, wear the best shoes you can afford for a majority of your day. Good, well-made shoes don't come cheap, but neither do beautiful, treacherous ones.
Come to think of it, beautiful-treacherous shoes are not only expensive, but so are the consequences. You might want to save those glamorous, soaring pieces of foot art for short-lived events, because painful feet take a toll on your entire body and mind. Wouldn't you rather have happy feet?