Aging ladies should make investments in their health


As many women age, they spend money on covering gray hair, anti-aging creams, pricey clothes and even plastic surgery in an effort to preserve their youthfulness. These expenditures may do wonders in the short term, but they'll do little for keeping the body healthy.

Getting older can be a total drag, according to Huffington Post senior writer Ann Brenoff. The journalist wrote on the news source's blog about her bunions, varicose veins and fears about aging.

"Aging is a b***h who, in the end, wins – no matter how hard you fight back. Think about it: Have you ever seen a 75-year-old woman with a facelift who didn't look like a 75-year-old woman with a facelift?" Brenhoff wrote.

Fears of aging aren't just about vanity

Later in her post, Brenhoff cops to her real fears about getting older – deteriorating health. No matter how much makeup, injections or trendy clothes a woman invests in, the fact is that underneath it all, aging will still take a toll on the body.

However, a healthy lifestyle and regular medical checkups can go a long way in preserving physical and mental well-being. Of course, it helps to start these things young, but even ladies in their 50s, 60s and beyond can significantly improve their chances of having active, disease-free golden years by taking care of a few problems.

A focus on health is integral to healthy aging

In an article on the blog, registered nurse Barbara Bronson Gray wrote that seniors – or soon-to-be seniors – should be mindful of their long-term health.

"If you want to live a healthy, long life, you can't be a day trader. Issues like weight, exercise, diet, nutrition and stress management don't offer big premiums on a day-by-day basis," Gray wrote.

She's right, as something as basic as maintaining a healthy body weight can not only keep the heart healthy, but reduce the risk of developing foot pain or back problems, which may impede a person's mobility in old age. In fact, foot health is an oft-overlooked issue for some people, but considering the importance of retaining the ability to move around, it's nothing to be neglected.

Ladies who want to nip health issues in the bud should see their doctor, eat right, get plenty of exercise and mind their podiatric well-being by wearing orthotics or bunion splints.

Survey reveals widespread foot pain across the U.S.


Americans' feet hurt, according to the National Foot Health Assessment 2012, and it's not just the old ladies whose dogs are barking. The survey, which was conducted for the Institute for Preventive Foot Health by research organization NPD Group, included responses from 1,456 individuals aged 21 and older, and the results showed that 78 percent had experienced some type of foot pain.

Most commonly, respondents reported blisters, calluses, foot fatigue, cracked skin, athlete's foot and ankle sprains. But that's just scratching the surface of the foot problems that plague Americans.

There are many forms and causes of foot pain

Age and activity appear to be the main factors that contribute to podiatric conditions, but gender also seems to play a role because women experience foot problems more frequently than men.

More specifically, it looks like ladies are more likely than dudes to develop fallen arches, calluses, ingrown toenails, corns and foot fatigue. This is probably because women tend to jam their feet into shoes with narrow toe beds and high heels, which can do some serious damage to the feet over time.

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that older people have more issues than those in their 20s and 30s. In older individuals, foot conditions are more than just painful or unsightly, as they can also impair a senior's mobility and quality of life.

It may seem obvious that people who jog, run, hike and play other intensive sports experience foot pain more often than their lazier counterparts, but about 46 percent of respondents said that they feel discomfort doing even simple things like shopping.

For many, the solution may be weight loss

Perhaps the fact that Americans are feeling fatigued even when running everyday errands is the sign of an even bigger (no pun intended) problem: excess weight and obesity. That's right, kids, it looks like super-sized helpings have put a serious burden on foot health in the U.S.

According to the survey authors, people with a BMI of 30 or higher – which is classified as obese – were 51 percent more likely than people with a lower body weight to say their foot health was fair or poor, and 41 percent more liable to develop serious foot problems. Also, these respondents tended to engage in less physical activity that people with lower BMIs.

War of the bunion busters: What’s the best conservative treatment?


It's safe to say that most people like to avoid bunion surgery whenever possible, considering the various risks and high cost of the operation. After all, why go under the knife when you can slip on a conservative bunion correction device and save your money for that pair of Louboutins you've been eyeing?

But these days, choosing a method of getting rid of bony bumps is like trying to pick a shade of nail polish – there are just so many to choose from! Well, fear not, dear readers, as I've compiled a breakdown of all the bunion busters out there.

Protective pads and cushions

These come in many forms, including gel-like shields, fabric pads and those little booties that have been popping up in the news lately. These products may be very helpful in preventing the irritation that results from bunions rubbing against shoes, but they do very little when it comes to reducing the size of bunions.

The devices are soft, and it takes a rigid material to encourage straightening of the big toe joint. Expecting a pad or a bootie to get rid of a bunion is akin to trying to change the shape of your head with a hat – it doesn't work.

Toe-spreading devices

These little tools are wedged between the big toe and its neighbor, working to push the big toe back into proper position and prevent crowding of the smaller toes. Unfortunately, they sometimes work the opposite way, because as they force the big toe straight, they also push the small toes outward. If that sounds uncomfortable, that's because it is. It's also ineffective.

Other spreaders work on all five toes, and may be more comfortable and consistent, but their efficacy remains questionable.

Toe straighteners

These devices are possibly the most complicated of all. They feature a padded splint to hold the big toe in place, bolstered by a spring and ring eye. Often, people get so frustrated by these contraptions that they end up failing to use them properly, if at all. Additionally, they tend to be quite uncomfortable.

Bunion splints and braces

Rigid bunion splints that provide arch support have been shown to be effective at halting or slowing the progression of bunions when worn on a regular basis. These devices work by getting to the root of the deformity, which often stems from improper biomechanics or structural problems in the foot.

The Bunion Aid by Alpha Orthotics provides much more than a splint to keep the big toe straight, as it also includes a mid-foot strap with a supportive pad to provide arch support. Additionally, it features a hinged design, allowing wearers to retain some mobility while correcting their bunions.

Check the law books before taking stilettos on vacation

There are a number of reasons why you might consider leaving your towering heels at home when going on a sight-seeing vacation, with the number one being possible foot pain. But then your sensible side likely kicks in and tells you to bring your cute sandals and platforms because it's oh-so important to look good on vacay.

However, in some locations, you may face trouble with the law – or even just get razzed by the locals – if you sport your stilettos in public.

Yahoo! Travel recently featured an article about strange laws in the U.S. and abroad, including a few cities that don't take kindly to tourists wearing heels in their territory.

Don't bring those pumps 'round here

The first was Carmel, Calif., which has an un-enforced ban on high heels. However, sight-seers can take home a novelty license that gives them permission to squeeze their bunions into whatever shoes they like. (Fun fact: Clint Eastwood was once the mayor of this city by the sea.)

In Blythe, Calif., they take their cowboy boots seriously. Like, really seriously, as in, you need to actually own a couple of cows in order to sport this heeled, pointy-toed footwear. This is pretty much the equivalent of banning boat shoes outside of marinas and restricting ballet flats unless you're a pin-thin dancer, but I guess we'll let Blythe have its tradition.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, Greek officials have apparently gotten fed up with ladies trotting all over the Acropolis in stilettos and leaving marks on the floors, because the country has put the kibosh on visitors wearing high heels to historical sites.

Be smart about footwear when traveling

All well-traveled women should know how to get through a vacation without having to endure foot pain, right? The key is to pack a variety of shoes, but not too many pairs, especially considering the outrageous fees airlines charge for overweight bags.

If you're heading to a stylish yet highly walkable city like Paris or New York, you may consider taking with you a very simple pair of loafers or oxfords that won't kill your feet during marathon shopping trips. For nights out, you should have on hand a classic pair of black or nude pumps.

Warmer locales call for sandals, of course, but straps and a lack of arch support might leave you limping if you go out to see the sights, so save 'em for the evening. Ballet flats with cutouts and orthotics are a good way to go, since they provide both ventilation and support.

A long commute may contribute to foot pain

It turns out that people who languish in traffic for hours each day may end up with more than a headache and road rage. Australian news sources are reporting that the increased traffic in the country's major cities of Melbourne and Sydney has led to foot pain for commuters.

According to the Herald Sun, a condition known as "clutch foot" occurs as a result of holding pedals down for extended periods of time. The tension and repetitive motion can lead to foot problems like numbness and cramps, as well as discomfort in the ankles, knees and hips.

Drivers testify about their pain

The news source spoke with 24-year-old Tianna Nadalin, who reported numbness in her toes and lower back pain as a result of sitting in traffic during her commute, and she said that switching from a stick shift to an automatic didn't help much.

"I used to get it in peak-hour traffic pressing the pedal in all the time, so when I bought a car I chose an automatic," Nadalin said, quoted by the news source. "And sometimes I still get it when I use the brake a lot, but there is nothing you can do about it."

A podiatrist told the Herald Sun that clutch foot is similar to tennis elbow in that it results from repetitive motions done over a long period of time.

According to Amol Saxena, D.P.M., of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, driving can lead to plantar fasciitis, also known as fallen arches. He reported on the organization's website that this is because the tissue that runs on the bottom of the foot has low blood supply, so it doesn't heal as quickly as other parts of the body may.

Don't let clutch foot keep you off the road

The Herald Sun recommended altering the position of your driver's seat to provide better support for the back. Also, the news source suggested that people should attempt to use their whole foot to apply pressure to the pedal.

Remember that they don't call them driving shoes for nothing, as this kind of footwear is made especially for putting the pedal to the metal. A roomy toe box, good arch support and grips on the heel may help you hit the road sans foot pain. 

Fiona Apple wants the world to see her bunions

Some celebrities go through pains to keep their bunions, scars and third nipples hidden from the public eye, but not Fiona Apple. The controversial songstress, who just released her much-anticipated fourth album titled The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do, recently told music website Pitchfork that she would proudly bare her bunions.

A photo shoot busted by bunions

Apple explained to the news source that she was once in a magazine photo shoot in which they wanted her to be barefoot, until, that is, they noticed that she had bony toe deformities. The photographers changed their minds, at which point the singer made an ultimatum.

"I told them, 'I'll only stay until [8 p.m.] if you show my feet in the magazine so that other girls can see my bunions and not feel bad about theirs,'" Apple said, quoted by Pitchfork. "All of a sudden, they didn't need me until eight anymore."

What a role model, eh? It's an interesting revelation that a publication would choose to cut their time short with a somewhat major celebrity than reveal that she has bunions. But should we really be shocked?

Airbrushed mag covers shown to affect women's confidence

UK news source The Telegraph has covered the issue, along with many other media outlets in recent years. It reported on a study conducted by beauty brand Dove, which revealed that images in magazines and advertisements that have been digitally altered caused low self-esteem in an estimated two-thirds of women.

Unrealistic-looking photos of starlets and models with expanded busts and shrunken waistlines can give ladies the impression that they, too, should be flawless and slim at all times. In reality, all people have their flaws and should be accepting of that which makes them different. (Move over, Oprah, I can inspire, too.)

Bunions are nothing to be ashamed of

Research has shown that about 30 percent of people will develop bunions at some point in their lives, and that this particular kind of pain in the feet occurs most often in women as they age. That's a pretty big chunk of the population dealing with foot problems, so ladies should feel comfortable showing off in strappy sandals – or even barefoot – no matter what their toes look like.

Maria Menounos reveals the extent of her foot pain

I'm beginning to wonder exactly what goes on behind the scenes of Dancing with the Stars, because the show seems to leave its contestants hobbling around with foot problems. Take, for instance, Maria Menounos, who was eliminated from the show on May 15, and was seen earlier this month trying to look her best in a sleeveless white dress, one sneaker and one orthopedic boot.

Menounos reported to her Twitter followers that had experienced stress fractures to both feet, and the Daily Mail added that she also sustained injuries to her chin and ribs.

"Good news!!! I am healing! One stress fracture in each foot to go and I'm all good. Had a few in each so this is huge news!" Menounos tweeted.

Dancers and foot pain

Menounos could simply stick to hosting televised events rather than prancing around on stage, as dancing is known to lead to issues like bunions, hammer toe, fallen arches, stress fractures, blisters and more. This is because of the intense and repetitive motions involved in the activity, which have a tendency to put pressure on the feet.

However, she doesn’t have to give up the activity, either. There are ways to prevent foot pain, even in the most dedicated dancers.

For example, treating the feet well by wearing shoes with good arch support and performing targeted stretching exercises can keep the many tendons, ligaments and bones there functioning well. Additionally, icing sore areas after a long day and visiting a podiatrist for recurring foot problems may help prevent serious issues. 

Surgery should be a last resort

Overuse conditions include bunions, hammer toe and fallen arches. These differ from acute injuries in that they occur over time, and can therefore sneak up on a person, sometimes progressing to the point when operations like bunion surgery are necessary.

As such, people who are at a high risk of developing problems – who include athletes, dancers and women who wear high heels frequently – should keep an eye on their feet and take note of their joint health.

Deformities like bunions and hammer toe can be prevented from becoming advanced through regular use of non-invasive devices like orthotics and bunion splints – which are far less costly and risky than surgical means of correction.


Clunky orthotics force woman into a life of ugly shoes


For many women, shoes make the outfit. But for UK resident Sally Underwood, hers have a tendency to break a look, as she finds it difficult to wear anything but old, large boots to accommodate her clunky custom orthotics, as reported by the Daily Mail.

The woman told the news source that she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, which particularly affects her feet and has resulted in a bunion and deformed toes on both feet.

Custom insoles can be a pain in the feet

Underwood said that her first pair of orthotics were relatively discreet and could be slipped into most shoes, according to the Mail. However, her condition has become so advanced that she now has thick, bulky orthotics that can only be accommodated by boots. In fact, Underwood was forced to wear a pair of rain boots for her wedding. (In all fairness, they were white and had pretty lacing up the front.)

"Now getting shoes that fit is a nightmare. It was such a relief to find wellies for my wedding," said Underwood, quoted by the news source. "My last success, a pair of Timberland boots, are nearly worn out – and they don’t have laces so they’re not giving me the support I need."

Underwood also explained to the news source that the process of simply getting new orthotics has become a hassle, as her arthritis is progressing and creating new problems, which will require a podiatric analysis.

Orthotics may be most effective for minor conditions

While rheumatoid arthritis can't always be effectively prevented, Underwood's story underscores the importance of taking care of feet before conditions become advanced and hinder mobility. For these purposes, devices like over-the-counter orthotics or bunion splints may come in handy.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, soft orthotics help to absorb shock when walking, provide stability and promote an even distribution of pressure on the foot, which may hinder the progression of conditions like bunions, hammer toe or fallen arches. In fact, the Splayfoot Hammer Toe Insoles by Alpha Orthotics feature a moveable pad, so users can get the benefits of custom treatment, minus the cost and hassle.

Bunion splints help straighten the joint of the big toe by holding it in place and providing arch support. These devices have been shown anecdotally to reduce the appearance of bony deformities at the ball of the foot.

Shoes of Prey gets a boost from investors


If you've never heard of the website Shoes of Prey, dear readers, pull up a seat. This nifty little online shop allows people to design their own shoes, choosing from a menu of 16 basic shoe designs and picking out their own details from there, including textile, colors, heel types, decorations, toe designs and straps.

That's right. This website lets all of your footwear dreams come true, even if you do end up spending much of your free time designing shoes with its virtual tool. Oh, and they're a tad pricey, too, ranging from $140 to $330.

We may soon see Shoes of Prey expand its options as well, because the company just received $3 million from investors.

"We are excited about the opportunities ahead as we begin to work with our new investors to redefine how women interact with the products we buy and wear," said the company's co-founder Jodie Fox.

Shoes to suit your foot problems

The site may be of particular interest to women who experience painful foot problems, such as bunions, hammer toe or fallen arches. That's because ladies (and men!) can choose the styles they love while making them friendly to their conditions.

For example, if you love the high heeled oxfords that are so trendy right now but they make your bunions ache, you can design a pair with a lower heel that's either a wedge or a square heel, which tend to be more stable than stilettos.

You can also choose from various toe shapes, from rounded to a wide open toe – whatever works for you. Additionally, some women with foot problems find it helpful to have a Mary Jane strap on their heels, and you can add one to just about any pair on the website.

If the shoe doesn't fit

Perhaps the best part of my new online obsession is that the company takes pains to ensure your shoes fit well, adjusting for wide or narrow feet as necessary. Also, if your shoes are slightly off in size, they'll pay to have them fixed at a local shop. If the shoes seriously don't fit, you can send them back to have the company remake them.

Additionally, many ladies find it helpful to use orthotic inserts for added arch support and cushioning.

Celebrities experience the side effects of high heels


Beauty and fame typically come with a price – whether in the literal sense of shelling out big bucks for designer shoes and apparel, or in the more figurative meaning of the word, in which the privilege to walk the red carpet in sky-high stilettos every weekend leads to a rather hideous situation below the ankles.

Just ask stars like Keri Hilson, Katie Holmes and Oprah, who were recently featured on the fashion blog for having bunions, hammer toes, corns and just plain ugly feet as a result of strutting around in pencil-thin stilettos and neck-breaking platforms.

Nice face, enviable career, but you wouldn't want those toes

The beautiful singer-cum-actress Keri Hilson was photographed in a pair of magenta platform T-strap heels, whose loveliness was stymied by corns on her smaller toes and what appears to be early-stage hammer toe on her left foot. 

The style blog also called out Katie Holmes, who was spotted in a pair of strappy nude heels that revealed some claw-like toes on both feet. Looks like Holmes joins Hilson in the celebrity hammer toe club.

Oprah has long been known to suffer from bunions. She's even talked openly about it on her television show, giving the audience some advice on bunion correction. It appears as though O continues on her mission to avoid bunion surgery, as the style blog caught an image of her wearing flip flops that exposed some sizable bony deformities at her big toe joints.

Don't be like these celebs – practice bunion prevention

While the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that foot problems like bunions are largely genetic, there are some measures you can take to keep these bony deformities at bay.

First, know your risk. If your mother or grandmother have bunions or hammer toe, you'll need to be extra vigilant in keeping your feet healthy. That means avoiding shoes with high heels and narrow toes, as well as wearing bunion splints or orthotics as a preemptive effort to keep the toe joints in place.

If comfortable footwear and orthotic devices don’t work, you can use ice and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, to manage pain and inflammation.

According to the NIH, people who experience significant pain or immobility as a result of their bunions may consider bunion surgery as a last-resort option for bunion correction.