Are bunion-prone 50-somethings more confident than their younger counterparts?


The tired old stereotype that women in their 50s sit around all day pining for the lost days of their youth may have recently been debunked by a survey, according to an AOL Lifestyle report. In fact, the research may suggest that ladies in their golden years are even better off than those in their 20s or 30s.

Perhaps the findings should be taken with a grain of salt, especially considering that the survey was conducted by Special K cereal, but the idea of aging women's self-esteem is worth examining.

"A woman in her 50s knows who she is, what her strengths are and values, as well as her weaknesses and failings," said psychologist Rebekah Fensome, quoted by the news source. "You become more accepting of the things that you are good at and the things that you are not."

Could it be that I will eventually learn to accept my bunions and crow's feet for what they are, and embrace the fact that I can finally afford to eschew knock-off Louboutins for the real thing? Perhaps, because an older study conducted at the University of California, Davis suggests similar correlations between age and confidence.

Researchers examined the self-esteem of 3,500 men and women aged 25 to 104 and discovered that confidence tends to peak at age 60 and that the younger study participants tended to have lower ratings of self-esteem. The scientists theorized that this may be due to the fact that older adults are less likely to commit crimes and more likely to have attained success in life.

"Midlife is a time of highly stable work, family and romantic relationships. People increasingly occupy positions of power and status, which might promote feelings of self-esteem," said co-author Richard Robins, Ph.D.

The team also noted that medical advancements that keep individuals healthy as they age may be contributing to overall feelings of wellness in middle age.

These researchers may be onto something. Despite the fact that my hair is graying and I have to wear bunion splints every night to keep the bony buggers in check, I feel pretty good about myself. Heck, I think I'll even head out right now and buy myself that new pair of Manolos I've had my eye on. I deserve it. Thank you, science!

Bunions may hamper winter sports performance

One of my favorite parts of wintertime is hitting the slopes or the ice rink to feel the rush of adrenaline during these high-speed activities. OK, I lied. My favorite part is drinking spiked hot chocolate and scouring resorts for good-looking men. It's just so much more enjoyable, especially because ski boots and ice skates tend to make my bunions ache.

There are a number of factors that make bunions and winter sports a bad combination. For one, boots and skates often leave little room for the bony deformity. Another reason is that bunions and hammer toe can cause imbalanced biomechanics, and unstable feet and ankles are hardly practical when you're sailing over ice or snow at high speeds.

But since the ski resort employees are beginning to question my motives for hanging out there all winter, I did some research on how to more comfortably engage in winter sports.

The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) reports that the high speeds and hairpin turns made by skaters have a tendency to exacerbate foot conditions, which may ultimately lead to hindered performance. Additionally, skiing requires stable ankles in order to move in a straight line, and this is especially true on those Black Diamond mountains.

Hm. Perhaps I'll stick to boy-watching and sipping booze. But, no! I'll resist. I've made a New Year's resolution to try new things.

Some new boots and skates may be in order, however, since the APMA recommends properly fitted footwear in order to keep feet in tip-top shape and prevent injuries during winter activities.

"If you are not sure your ski boots or skates fit properly, or if an apparently proper-fitting pair still hurts, take them to a podiatric physician, who can evaluate the fit and make recommendations to improve both comfort and performance on the ice or slopes," according to the APMA website.

Additionally, orthotics can easily be placed inside boots or skates to improve arch support and distribute weight evenly across the foot.

Southern Ski Tools makes a device that may add some extra space for bunions or hammer toe. The company's Toe Jam Spreader can be supplemented with a tool called a Bunion Popper that stretches out boots to make room for bony deformities.

Of course, if bunions or hammer toe are keeping you from engaging in your favorite winter sports, you can try bunion splints or orthotics. These devices may be best enjoyed with your feet up, in front of a toasty fire after a long day of skiing. 

Shoppers maim each other over shoes


I'm not going to pretend that I don't know what it's like to desire a pair of shoes so much that my bunions burn and my heart races, but people were acting pretty foolish this holiday season. A shoe sale at Saks Fifth Avenue caused near chaos, and the release of the new model of Nike Air Jordan's led to mall frenzies across the country.

The New York Daily News reported that hoards of shoppers mobbed the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store on the day after Christmas for Christian Louboutins and Manolo Blahniks discounted by 60 percent.

"The line wrapped around the floor," one shopper told the news source. "There were too many people. They were pushing and shoving. It was a zoo."

The Daily News also reported that once shoppers got wind that the 60 percent-off sale would be reduced to a mere 40 percent discount after noon, the crowd went crazy and people began to panic that they wouldn't make it to the checkout in time.

Honestly, I'm surprised no one was shivved. Those Manhattan ladies may seem refined, but anyone who's been to a sample sale or watched the Real Housewives of New York knows otherwise.

But things weren't any better in the suburban regions. The release of the Nike Air Jordan 11 Retro sneakers caused chaos at malls nationwide.

"There were gloves, hats and pieces of clothing everywhere. One guy lost both shoes and went in anyway," said shopper Balint Nagy, of Indianapolis, quoted by the Indianapolis Star. "A guard said, 'What about your shoes here?' and the guy kept going."

Well, at least the Nikes are unlikely to give anyone bunions, which is more than can be said for Louboutins. Still, it's madness, I tell you. Why can't people be more like yours truly? I don't even go to the stores. I just sit online, scouring websites for good deals on stilettos, platforms and wedges. Before I know it, I'm four Cosmopolitans deep and about five pairs of shoes richer, if not a substantial amount of money poorer. I don't have a problem. Why are you looking at me like that?

At any rate, online shopping is where it's at. Not only can you find great deals on a wide variety of shoes, but you can purchase bunion splints and orthotics as well. Trust me, you'll need them later, if you don't already.

Not even Manolo Blahnik approves of Suri Cruise wearing heels


Tiny fashionista and celebrity spawn Suri Cruise has been making headlines over the past year due to her apparent penchant for high heels at the tender age of 5. New York Magazine recently broached the topic with the stiletto king himself, Manolo Blahnik, who reacted with incredulity.

"She wears high heels?" Manolo asked in a video interview. "That girl is destined to be a victim of a high heel!"

Psst, Tom and Katie, he means she's at risk of developing bunions or hammer toe. Just in case you weren't aware.

While Blahnik may just now be aware of the fact that the tike teeters on her tippy toes, the Daily Mail has been paying close attention all along. The news source has a catalog of images of Suri in her heels, and has even calculated an estimate of what the child's shoe collection must be worth. For the record, the foot-obsessed news source believes the girl must have at least $150,000 worth of shoes sitting in her closet.

(Please give me a moment while my raging jealousy subsides.)

Well! Another interesting tidbit that the Mail reported is that doting mom Katie Holmes has gone so far as to have shoes custom made with high heels if little Suri shows a preference for a certain style. Her favorite designer, you ask? Oh, just a small-time designer named Marc Jacobs, who only single-handedly made Louis Vuitton cool again back in the 1990s, when Holmes was little more than a character on Dawson's Creek. But I digress.

Ok, so good for you, Suri. You have an array of beautiful high heels right at your tiny, probably manicured fingertips. So what? You're probably going to get bunions.

That's not just my bitterness talking. The DuPage Medical Group reports that children are more susceptible to foot problems, when compared to adult counterparts, because the muscles, tendons and bones in their feet are still developing. This means that underlying foot problems – such as bunions or hammer toe – can be exacerbated by poorly fitted or inappropriate footwear.

High heels are known to make bunions worse in people who are predisposed to them, so let's cross our fingers that Tom and Katie don't have bunion-stricken genes. The celebs may be happy to know that the Bunion Aid can be adjusted to fit feet of many sizes, meaning that there is hope for a bunion-less Suri Cruise.

Predicting storms this winter may be a matter of listening to your bunions

People who have broken a bone at some point in their life will often say that they feel pain or discomfort in the area when it's about to rain or change weather. You may have thought to yourself, "Clairvoyant injuries? Nice try." 

However, some people do have barometric joints. The pressure in the atmosphere tends to change when there is a shift in temperature or humidity. This can make sensory nerves in the joints react to the weather, according to researchers at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University.

"When pressure in the environment changes, we know that the amount of fluid in the joint or the pressure inside the joint fluctuates with it," said researcher Javad Parvizi, M.D., Ph.D. "Individuals with arthritic joints feel these changes much more because they have less cartilage to provide cushioning."

This means that people with bunions – who often have degraded cartilage in the joint of their big toe – may be able to feel a storm a' coming just by a twinge in their bony deformity.

Parvizi said that treating joints with ice, topical pain relievers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or nutritional supplements that promote joint health, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, may help alleviate weather-related discomfort. Moreover, correction of the affected joint is recommended.

"Our goal is to get that painful little weatherman out of the patient’s joints while treating the root cause of their condition," Parvizi said.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends conservative treatment of bunions before resorting to risky, expensive bunion surgery. This means giving the aforementioned pain-reducing treatments a try in conjunction with bunion splints or orthotics, which may help correct bony deformities.

You may also feel the impact of frigid temperatures on your bunions in the form of chilblains. These little buggers form on the skin if you decide to heat up chilled hands or feet in water or air that is too hot, according to the Mayo Clinic. They appear more often in women – because we have all the luck – and during the colder months. Moreover, chilblains are likely to pop up if your shoes are rubbing on your feet, a common issue for the bunioned.

So, there you have it, folks. The weather can do weird things to bunions, making bunion splints or orthotics a great Christmas gift idea for those suffering from the condition.

Holiday parties can lead to hangovers of many kinds

After a long holiday celebration, you may feel a little queasy from the alcohol, tired after much socializing or embarrassed due to some regrettable late-night dance moves. On top of all this, your feet are probably aching from wearing those killer heels you bought especially for holiday festivities.

Here's the problem with special occasion shoes: Your feet are not used to them. So, whether you choose towering stilettos, wedge-heeled boots or some trendy flatforms, your feet may experience a bit of a shock after a long night of wearing them. The result? High heel hangover.

Luckily, some of the things you may already do to cure an alcohol hangover may also make your feet feel better. Namely, taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, and drinking plenty of water. The over-the-counter medication will reduce swelling and ease discomfort while the hydration prevents or stops cramping. Anyone who has experienced a charley horse after a long night of drinking may know that dehydration is one of the causes of muscle spasms. And since high heels can cause cramping in the arch, it makes sense that getting plenty of water can prevent this.

You can also relieve arch pain by rolling a frozen bottle of water under your foot. Or, use that bottle of vodka in your freezer. After all, you'd be putting it to better use soothing your plantar fasciitis before it can give you another hangover.

If your bunions are getting to you, consider wrapping an icepack in a towel or cloth and holding that on your bony deformity. You can also try stretching your big toe outward gently for about 20 seconds at a time, which may help ease bunion pain. Spending some quality time in your favorite bunion splint is also a good idea after a night of teetering around in heels.

(Please excuse me while I channel my mother for a second.)

Next time, young lady, wear some shoes that fit, for goodness' sake! If you have bunions, hammer toe or are just not used to wearing pumps or stilettos, be sure to have some wiggle room in the toe box. That means no Carrie Bradshaw-esque pointy toed heels. Also, make sure they fit correctly. Those foot measuring devices aren't in the stores for decoration, and the employees' jobs entail more than tracking down special sizes or colors for you, they can both help you avoid your next high heel hangover.

Cover your bunions: We’re talking about shoe obsessions

Every day, women across the country struggle with an addiction that consumes their minds, depletes their bank accounts and causes bunions, hammer toe and arch pain. Shoe obsession can begin with impulsive browsing of online retailers and snowball into a full-blown addiction where you scour malls and shopping districts, sweeping up every pair that catches your eye.

UK pop star Cheryl Cole was the latest celebrity to come out about her dependency, and the Daily Record tracked down a number of women who also suffer from this potentially life-altering condition.

"Since I was a teenager, I have been obsessed with heels," admitted June Voy, of Edinburgh, quoted by the news source. "I remember at university I went without food just so I could save up to buy my first pair of designer shoes. I bought them in 1987 and still wear them now and then. I buy a new pair of shoes every month and my favorites are my [Yves Saint Laurent] tribute shoes, which I bought in Paris for £500."

That amounts to about $780, dear readers.

Voy said her shoe-of-choice is a towering heel in a bright color, which is typical gateway footwear because of the way it catches the eye and lengthens the leg. But you know it's gotten really bad when you find yourself traveling to distant cities and shelling out more than a month's rent for a pair of designer heels, which many of the women featured in the article admit to doing.

Moreover, these ladies are making changes to their homes in order to accommodate their fixation.
"I have so many pairs that I had to create my own shoe cupboard. I painted it black and added some sparkly lights and stacked all my shoes so I could easily pick a pair to match my outfit," said Julie Hannah, of Glasgow, quoted by the news source.

Women like Voy and Hannah are not alone. reports that an estimated 18 million Americans have a shopping addiction.

Recovery can be difficult, but is certainly possible if you stay dedicated to skipping shoe sales and have a good network of friends who prefer loafers over stilettos. Cut up your credit cards if you need to, and unsubscribe from Groupon and other deal websites. Last, but not least, you can erase the traces of your shoe obsession by using bunion splints or orthotics to help correct bunions and hammer toe.

Shoes that may bring out the animal – and bunions – in you

Actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Blake Lively have been spotted recently looking rather cat-like below the ankles. No, these ladies have not been nimbly frolicking around town, they've simply hopped on the apparent trend of wearing shoes designed to look like animal paws. In this case, the stars have chosen Christian Louboutin's Alex shoe.

The stiletto heel is made of camel fur and crystals, and makes the wearer's toes appear like cat claws. Parker wore the pumps to a recent event paired with a flowing red gown and a Little Red Riding Hood-esque cape. Lively wore hers with some brown slim-fit pants and an oversized knit cardigan.

Both looked a little ridiculous, if you ask me. It appears as though a writer on the Styleite blog felt the same way.

"As cool as it might sound to make your feet look a little more feline, putting a claw-shaped shoe on them makes them look clunky. The Alex heel might be way, way diva, but it’s also clunky. And cats are supposed to be lots of things, but last time we checked clunky was not one of them," wrote Justin Fenner.

The blogger estimated that the shoes cost somewhere in the vicinity of $1,000.

But Louboutin isn't the only one who's been getting animalistic lately. Marc Jacobs released a whole line of flats that look like mice. For about $250, you can make your feet look like glittery, studded or patent leather rodents. Sigh. I had such high hopes for you when you left Louis Vuitton, Jacobs. What happened?

Earlier this summer, CNN featured Israeli shoe designer Kobi Levi, who has designed an array of eye-catching footwear. Her creations include pumps that look like swans, puppies, ducks and toucans. In addition, the inventive designer has crafted footwear that looks like it has stepped in gum and some thong heels modeled after a slingshot.

"I make each pair one by one, and they're strong; technically, it can function like any other high-heeled shoe. It just looks kind of more crazy than usual so people sometimes cannot believe that it is wearable," Levi told CNN.

These designers may have trouble marketing their footwear to anyone other than Lady Gaga and other attention-seeking stars. Not only do they look crazy, but they will surely exacerbate bunions in those who are predisposed to the bony deformity. Ladies who are brave enough to don these shoes should consider investing in bunion splints or orthotics to help keep bunions and hammer toe at bay.