Monday, 26 May 2008

What Is A Good High Heel To Wear?

In a GMTV interview, podiatrist Emma Supple gives advice about wearing high heels:

What Is A Good High Heel To Wear?

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Yoga For The Feet By Tara Stiles

Todays post is a video by Tara Stiles called 'Yoga For The Feet'. If you suffer from foot cramps, Tara recommends some stretching techniques to help get rid of them.

Yoga for the Feet by Tara Stiles

Friday, 18 January 2008

Are my high heels bad for me?

I am 5ft 10 inches tall and as a result, unless I never want anybody to talk to me, I don't usually find the need to wear high heels apart from on really special occasions. Saying that, there are a lot of females (and cross dressers and the odd fancy dress party goer) that do (approx. 300 million pairs of heeled shoes are sold annually in the US) and on behalf of these people, lets find out the truth about high heels and whether we should be heading for the recycle bank.

If you do frequently wear high heels or shoes that are too narrow or too short for your feet, you and your feet might be suffering from a number of ailments such as corns, calluses, toenail problems, bunions to name but a few. Not to scare you (well actually yes if it helps), a worst case scenario of long term abuse of your feet through ill fitting shoes could leave your feet looking something like this:

Compared to the sought after sexy factor of the high heels, these feet are anything but sexy! This is a bad case of bunions.

Problems like this do not just happen overnight, they build up over time. Research undertaken by D. Casey Kerrigan, M.D., M.S. of the University of Virginia has also linked the wearing of high heels to knee osteoarthritis, a painful, degenerative joint disease.

The images in this chart show us some of the major issues (Click on the image to enlarge):

It's not only your shoes affecting your feet, age does as well. As you get older your feet become wider and longer and the natural padding under your heel and forefeet thins. Your feet and ankles become stiffer (ask any reflexologist) through years of standing and walking and your arches flatten.

So back to that question, can I keep my high heels or are their days numbered?

Well not entirely, according to Martin Ellman, D.P.M., a specialist in podiatry at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
"You can still wear high heels, but save them for special occasions," says Dr.Ellman. "...Avoid wearing high heels every day to minimize your risk of developing foot problems." The advice from Dr. Ellman is to "wear comfortable shoes eg trainers whenever you can for your commute to work and then changing into high heels once you arrive. Limit heel height to an inch and a half, and don't wear your high heels all day. For instance, if you have an important event in the morning, wear the high heels then, and switch to lower heeled shoes in the afternoon. Alternate your shoe choice throughout the day or from one day to the next."

So here are some tips to think about when buying your next pair of shoes:
  • Get your feet measured -your foot size can change with age
  • Choose sensible heels -try to select shoes with low heels eg. an inch and a half or less
  • Try the shoe on even if it's in your size-every shoe is different and you're going to be wearing them-get it right from the start!
  • Compare the shoe width with the width of your foot - try to avoid shoes that are to narrow for your feet
  • Try both shoes on - If you're like me and both of your feet are a different size then you need to know the difference and if both shoes feel comfortable for you
  • Shop for shoes late in the afternoon or in the evening - Your feet swell during the course of the day so try to hold out and resist the urge if it's at all possible!
Well there we have it, if you really can't give up those stilettos, try to limit the amount of time you spend in them and in the words of Kellie Pickler in the song Red High Heels:

"Baby I’ve got plans tonight
You don’t know nothin’ about
I’ve been sitting around way too long
Trying to figure you out
But you say that you’ll call and you don’t
And I’m spinning my wheels
So I’m going out tonight
In my red high heels"

*Sources used in the production of this article include The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research and Science Direct, many thanks

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Is it illegal to drive barefoot? Answered

I noticed a few questions circulating on the Internet about whether it is illegal to drive barefoot in the UK so I contacted the UK Driving Standards Agency a couple of days ago and received the following response:

"You can legally drive in the U.K. with bare feet, also you can take a driving test with bare feet."

So that confirms it for the UK.

All you British shoe haters out there can go for it and be free!!


The Foot

Thanks to the Driving Standards Agency for their prompt response.

"And I would 500 miles and I would walk 500 hundred more..."

Well it wasn't quite as far as The Proclaimers would go but here's the evidence of my mammoth walk a few days ago. By the end of the day it was up to 28,000 steps! To give you a rough idea of distance, that's about 15 miles. Go me!

The pedometer is proving to be a really helpful tool in my daily exercise routine so far. If you have one anywhere in your home, it's certainly worth digging it out, if not, they're not too expensive to buy . Check the batteries, clip it on and you're away, simple as that! Get a rough idea of how many steps you are taking in a day-you might be surprised!

For information about the recommended daily number of steps you should be taking to stay healthy, check my earlier posting here.

If you do try this out, I would love to hear from you. It's always more fun to do this at the same time as other people and to cheer each other on.

The Foot

PS. The 28000 step day was a bit of a one off and my average typically is somewhere between 7000 and 10,000 steps a day at the moment.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Barefoot matters and where are all the Reflexology paths?

I enjoy spending as much time as possible without my shoes and socks on. I grew up near a beach and could run around barefoot to my hearts content, it was natural to me. Now I live in an urban environment and it just isn't possible. I fear stepping on glass, dog muck, chewing gum etc I also fear people stepping on my long toes in the crowded streets-and lets be honest-the UK isn't the warmest of countries either! OK, so I have to settle with just going barefoot at home, but is there any other way? Well I first heard of Reflexology paths a few years ago and I have been keen to try one out. These paths are quite commonly found in parks and public spaces throughout Asia. When I started researching for this article I hoped to find evidence of reflexology paths in the UK but to my disappointment, I have found none whatsoever. The benefits of walking on a reflexology path are based on the same principles behind reflexology where the 7,000 nerve endings, muscles, ligaments and bones in our feet can influence everything from digestion and constipation to blood pressure and chronic pain. As in reflexology, this must be done barefoot for any effect. There are a couple of paths in the US that received some publicity a couple of years ago when they opened but I can't find ANY signs of progress in the UK.

What I have found is a Barefooting community who want us to understand that:

"It is healthy for your feet to go barefoot.
It is not against the law to go barefoot into any kind of establishment
including restaurants.
It is also not against any health department regulation.
It is not against the law to drive barefoot."

(Being as this is from an American based website, I am currently awaiting confirmation from the UK Driving Standards Agency regarding the last point.)
I also found Barefoot parks based in Austria and Germany that are open to the public and offer the opportunity to walk some distance (up to three miles) on natural ground and to feel a variety of materials with the bare soles. The Barefoot Parks website states:
"...visitors can enjoy balancing or climbing exercises and walk through brooks or even rivers. Some barefoot parks include playground sections designed for barefoot use. This healthy combination of barefoot hiking and playing has become a real touristic attraction."

I also found this list of quotes about barefooting.

And what about running barefoot? I remember the South African runner Zola Bud smashing the 5000m World record in 1984 and the reason I remember it? She ran barefoot.

Is there any evidence to suggest running barefoot is better for you or helps in some way? Well it seems to be a minefield of information and opinions but hey at least it's being discussed!

Australian physical therapist Michael Warburton published his research into barefoot running in 2001.
He concluded that:

"Running in shoes appears to increase the risk of ankle sprains, either by decreasing awareness of foot position or by increasing the twisting torque on the ankle during a stumble.

Running in shoes appears to increase the risk of plantar fasciitis and other chronic injuries of the lower limb by modifying the transfer of shock to muscles and supporting structures.

Running in bare feet reduces oxygen consumption by a few percent. Competitive running performance should therefore improve by a similar amount, but there has been no published research comparing the effect of barefoot and shod running on simulated or real competitive running performance.

Research is needed to establish why runners choose not to run barefoot. Concern about puncture wounds, bruising, thermal injury, and overuse injury during the adaptation period are possibilities.

Running shoes play an important protective role on some courses, in extreme weather conditions, and with certain pathologies of the lower limb."

Christine Dobrowolski, Podiatrist and the author of Those Aching Feet: Your Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Foot Problems wrote an article also enquiring about the benefits or barefoot running and summarized her findings as follows:

"There are probably a few individuals who could improve their performance and decrease their rate of injury by running barefoot. But, before you toss your shoes in the garbage can and head out for a run with naked feet, consider a better fitting shoe. Barefoot running is not recommended for individuals with a high arch, a very low arch, those who overpronate or those with diabetes. If you do decide to give barefoot running a try, choose the running surface carefully and be aware of puncture wounds."

Amby Burfoot of Runner's World published an article in 2004 and concluded in response to the same question:
"...many podiatrists think it's dangerous. "Most of my patients aren't worldclass runners," says foot doctor Stephen Pribut, DPM. "It wouldn't make sense for them to risk getting twigs and glass in their feet. And I think some soft surfaces increase plantar fascia and Achilles problems. Of course, what doesn't kill you might make you stronger."

This a-little-medicine-is-good-for-you perspective is shared by a number of other podiatrists, physical therapists, and coaches. Their theory: Modern man does spend too much time in shoes, and this weakens many of the foot and leg structures. To correct this, you can walk barefoot around the house, do simple foot strengthening exercises, or run a few barefoot miles a week on safe, secure surfaces."

Well there we have it-clear as mud! I hope to see urban public reflexology paths and more research carried out into the benefits of going barefoot in the near future. In the meantime, if you do live near a reflexology path, I would welcome your feedback -Do you use it? How widely used are they in your community? Any information you may care to share would be appreciated.

Yours barefooted,

The Foot