Will orthopaedic sandals be the ‘it’ trend next summer?

I know most of you may think I am jumping the gun when it comes to footwear fashion for next summer, but my eyes didn't deceive me when i was surfing through the Daily Mail. Apparently Worishofers – playfully dubbed as "bunion shoes" – may be gracing the feet of women everywhere when warmer weather comes back.

Although Europeans still haven't caught on to the trend, fashion divas like Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst and M.I.A. have all been seen sporting Worishofers, an orthopaedic shoe manufactured in Germany that is causing many of the fashion elite to raise their eyebrows – this is certainly not your average pair of Louboutins.

According to Slate, this all started after the shoes were called "chic" and "ridiculously comfortable" by Lucky magazine in 2006, and the manufacturer has been enjoying success ever since. Since 2009, the president of Buddy Shoes – one of the few distributors of Worishofers in the United States – has tripled his sales because of the growing footwear trend. What the source is calling "granny-chic" should become the must-have for any sartorially-minded fashionista – especially those who are suffering from bunions. Although they have been marketed to the under-40 crowd stateside, pregnant women and people dealing with foot problems have been enjoying these trendy
orthopaedic sandals for years.

For me, this news couldn't be better. Paired with a shoe insert, I can still look fashionable and aid my sore bunion at the same time! Podiatrists and the fashion elite have both accredited these bunion-friendly sandals. Since I do quite a bit of walking – and I know many of you ladies do the same – sandals with proper support are the best options for your bunion, especially during the summer months when you're trying to cram in vacation time or rush the kids around.

The shoe world is tricky, so the verdict still isn't in on whether or not Worishofers will make their way to the feet of even more celebrities (ahem, Victoria Beckham). However, this is definitely a step in the right direction if you are trying to stay fashionable and stave off foot pain. Until then, I will continue to wear my beloved orthotic and continue to hope for the day when high heels are finally out of fashion.

Hall of Fame kicker with foot problems holds the record for NFL’s longest field goal

Ask any sports fan who was alive in 1977 and they can remember it: the historic 63-yard field goal that was kicked by Tom Dempsey. Although football kickers and punters are typically the butt of many jokes among sportscasters and reporters, nobody doubts the prowess of Dempsey – and his trusty orthotic device.

The new American pastime
I am an American, so of course I am a fan of football. While watching a game last Sunday, (bloody mary in one hand and remote in the other) I overheard the announcers talking about a kicker from the 1970s that still holds the record for the longest field goal. As if this statistic isn't impressive enough, Dempsey may also hold the record for being the bravest NFL kicker in the history of the sport: He was born with a clubbed foot.

I've watched a lot of football this fall, and I can assure you that the pressure for fellas to have perfect feet on the gridiron is almost as important as ladies on the catwalk. Pair that with the fact that innovations in sports medicine and technology has become a mainstay in the NFL, and you can see how truly astounding it is that Dempsey has held this record for so long, especially with a foot ailment.

One for the record books
Like bunions, a clubbed foot is a medical condition that is genetic. Unlike bunions, this foot problem is more common with men than women. Dempsey's story is truly unique, as most people born with a clubbed foot have great difficulty performing even simple tasks like walking, according to the Mayo Clinic. Many people born with this condition are usually limited in their choice of orthotic devices – but that wasn't the case for Dempsey.

According the New York Daily News, the kicker was a natural athlete, despite his clubbed foot. Although he started out as a defensive tackle, the coach of the New Orleans Saints wisely instructed Dempsey to become the team's kicker, and the rest is history.

There is a bit of controversy surrounding his orthotic device. Dissenters claim that his special shoe (which is now currently on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame) gave him an unfair advantage on the gridiron. I say let it go – people with foot problems have enough to deal with, am I right?

Hit the gym, ladies: Exercise is good for your bunion!

This may not be the best news to some of you ladies out there who are planning on indulging this holiday season, there are plenty of reasons to get back on that treadmill, and that includes your bunion pain. Overeating and not exercising won't just make your joints beg for mercy, healthy nutrition and moderate exercise are the best ways to keep looking young, fresh and energized!

Lace up your sneakers
Based on information from the Harvard Medical School (I believe they know a thing or two about health), self-help measures are some of the best ways to make bony bumps a little less irritating. You've heard me warn about the perils of high heels before, but there is a shoe that could spell relief for your bunion pain – your trusty pair of tennis shoes.

Although exercise is important, not everyone likes to slave away on the elliptical machine. Although this may work for some of you gals out there, I am getting too old to be jogging away on a piece of cardio equipment (not a pretty sight). However, that doesn't mean that I don't make time for fitness. Not only is aging gracefully one of my main goals (fingers crossed), staying active and flexible is one of the best ways to keep my irritating bunion off of my mind. So what is a girl to do about losing weight with a bunion?

Get down with your 'Downward Facing Dog'
I am painfully aware that bunion pain occurs within the bones of the feet. However, taking advice from the Livestrong Foundation, yoga has become my exercise of choice. It's important to know that yoga isn't a quick fix or a cure all – but it can become quite useful for slowing down the growing out of those annoying bunions. An added bonus? Yoga can also help promote your mobility and keep you looking lean (what girl wouldn't want that?).

Some of the poses I have found that work best for my bunion include standing with my feet planted firmly on the ground with my toes spread and somewhat gripping the yoga mat. The bunion bone turns inward, so standing positions with the direct opposition of its growth are the best poses to show that bunion who is boss. Some of the poses that the foundation recommended include: warrior, tadasana, vrkasana and utkatasana (good luck with pronouncing some of those).

Kate Middleton’s bun in the oven could mean more bad news for her bunions

The media leapt with joy upon hearing the news of Kate Middleton – the world's most famous princess. Although rumors have been circulating in the tabloids for quite some time, many people, and especially us anglophiles, were thrilled to hear that the princess was expecting the next heir to the British crown.

A royal affair
Like many of you ladies out there, I am quite obsessed with the royal family (who wouldn't be with all of their salacious scandals!), so I was understandably excited to hear that the princess was expecting. However, since Kate is already developing quite a nasty bunion on her feet, it may be time to put away her Vera Wang pumps and opt for more comfortable shoes due to the extra weight she will be carrying around on her tiny frame.

During a pre-Olympic visit to a judo center to promote the London Games this past summer, the world gasped when they saw Kate Middleton's tootsies. Not only is it pretty strange to see a member of the royal family barefoot, Kate's feet … how do I put this … weren't exactly fit for a princess; redness, flaking, bruising and the early signs of a bunion were all there. Although sweet Kate can get away with these problems while she is young, her bun in the oven isn't going to do her aching feet any favors.

Pregnancy hormones are to blame
According to Dr. Steve Rosenburg, women's feet change during pregnancy (among other body parts, as we ladies all know). In a Huffington Post article, he highlighted that the hormone called relaxin targets weight-bearing ligaments in the pelvis to prepare a woman for childbirth, but this hormone also stretches the arches and toes of the foot, often causing conditions like flat feet. Although this hormone is a good thing for Kate since it is preparing room for her growing royal bundle, her feet, unfortunately, may never be the dainty toesies they once were.

If Kate thought that her royal duties were keeping her on her toes, just wait until her impending flat feet turn her burgeoning bunion into something much worse. Being pregnant is uncomfortable enough – why put your feet through anymore added stress with high heels? Princess Kate's feet need a little extra TLC during this time, not her trademark pumps … I hope Prince William gives a mean foot rub, because she is definitely going to need it.

Victoria Beckham is back to her old bunion-exacerbating ways

As the saying goes, "old habits die hard." All I needed to do was take one look at Victoria Beckham's mangled feet to find some truth to this statement. Someone formerly called "Posh Spice" should know that the hottest fashion trends don't necessarily mean your former foot problems are going to disappear. 

Victoria's sordid foot history
Like me, this woman knows all too well what happens when you get bunions. The former pop star turned fashion designer has been having issues with her feet since the Spice Girls were still a band (that is a long time, for you younger readers). Rumors are still swirling around London about whether or not Victoria went under the knife to correct her bony bumps.

I don't want to be too hard on Victoria because she isn't a complete dunce (she had the good sense to marry that sexy husband of hers, am I right?) However, I have a rough idea of why Victoria's long and uncomfortable history with pain in the feet has been hitting the tabloids year after year – and I bet the answer is lying in her closet (closets?) full of death-defying Louboutins.

She was spotted just recently in one of her own garment designs, which I have to say looked sensational on her svelte frame, especially after four kids. However, the outfit would have paired perfectly with some stylish flats instead of the outlandishly spiky and uncomfortable knee-high heeled boots she was wearing.

Some women will never learn
Rumor has it that her hunk of a husband, David Beckham, is calling it quits stateside (say it ain't so!) and bringing their life back to England so that their kids can spend their school years there, so the fashion-conscious pair have been seen shopping for a new flat in the luxurious West London neighborhoods recently.

Ok … I've never been to London, but I can't imagine that this is what a typical British woman would be wearing while looking for a new pad. Apartment hunting is a chore, not a runway show! And besides, she should know better after all of her years with issues related to bunions.

As her shoes continue to reach new heights, there is a chance her bunions will come back if she did indeed have surgery. Studies have shown that just because you go through a procedure to correct your bunions doesn't mean they go away for life, especially if you have a love affair with towering heels like our friend, Mrs. Beckham.

Nike helps diminish foot pain and rakes in 2012 profits

It's been a very good year for Nike. For many Americans, the Nike swoosh has become as iconic as baseball, Coca-Cola and apple pie, and I am no different.

I follow many hunky athletes, and the vast majority of them tend to pick the shoe giant as their provider for all things athletic – famous or not. According to Advertising Age, Nike is soaring above all other competitors in 2012, and they have the London Olympics to thank for that. Who didn't watch the Olympic Games this year? I don't think I have seen that many big British celebs since I spotted Victoria Beckham's bunions at the Royal Wedding several years ago.

All joking aside, sporting events of this magnitude mean big bucks for the shoe industry. Since so many athletes have hitched a ride on the Nike train, the world's biggest sporting stage allowed the shoe behemoth to sponsor eight of the 16 countries that were featured in the Euro 2012 soccer championship (can you say "eye candy?!") and were able to flawlessly etch the iconic swoosh across the swimsuits, athletic shorts and tennis shoes of many competitors at the 2012 Olympic Games. Not that the swoosh was the first thing to catch my eye, but…

To date, Nike currently holds 55 percent of the market share and is awash with $24 billion in profits for 2012 – both up 4 percent from 2011 despite the dismal economy (I don't know about you, but my shoe-shopping habit has certainly taken a dive this year). What is even more amazing is that Nike didn't have to bombard me with annoying commercials to get there. Like my trusty orthotic, their products usually speak for themselves.

There is a reason why Nike is continually on top when it comes to athletic shoes. According to Shape magazine, the best athletic shoes for women includes Nike's Zoom line, which was launched this year in lieu of the London Olympic Games. Many athletes with foot problems – both male and female – swear allegiance to Nike because of their great arch support and balance that so many active participants need.

According to Advertising Age, only $3 billion of their skyrocketing profits came directly from consumer sales, but the good news is that they are starting to change that. By expanding their retail footprint with what they call "brand experience stores" this year, Nike is hoping to reach and even larger consumer base. It certainly looks to me that this shoe giant is here to stay.

The debate continues over cosmetic surgery for foot problems

Just how far will people go to make their feet pretty? Quite far, surprisingly enough … and let me just say I have seen a lot when it comes to feet. It's no walk in the park to blitz a bunion by going under the knife, but disturbing cosmetic foot surgeries continue to intrigue women across the country.

I've never understood how having your foot maimed was considered sexy in the first place, but according to Podiatry Today, many concerned doctors are actually honoring their Hippocratic Oath by coming out against these unneccessary – and often silly – operations. The facts remain the same: Surgeries are not without risk, so why go through the pain and cost of shaving down your bunion when you can just use a trusty orthotic? A night splint may not be the sexiest of nocturnal footwear, but it sure as hell beats a surgical scar that you will have for the rest of your life.

In a revealing article by The Wall Street Journal, some clinics in Los Angeles are offering "Foot-Tuck Fat Pad Augmentation," an operation that sounded so extremely off-putting that I had to re-read its description to make sure I wasn't having a nightmare. In this radical new operation, doctors remove the excess fat from your stomach – this isn't anything new in L.A., am I right? After they have removed these tissues, they cut your foot open and shove the fat underneath the balls of your feet so that wearing sky-high heels is easier and more comfortable.

Call me crazy, but does this not sound completely nuts? I thought that surgery was supposed to be performed in extreme situations. The lengths that women will go to wear Louboutins never ceases to amaze me. Hopefully these Hollywood foot surgery trends will not become national phenomenons. Some things are better left to Hollywood.

Thankfully, most doctors think that these extreme versions of a bunionectomy are not the way to go. According to Podiatry Today, both the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) agree with me – getting cosmetic surgery on your feet is silly – not to mention expensive! I would much rather use those thousands of dollars on a year's supply of shoes or pedicures.

The psychology behind high heels – and what it means for your bunion

I personally have never understood the love affair that women have with sky-high shoes. Have heels ever gone down in height? I guess flats made a comeback for a hot minute, but honestly, I simply cannot go shopping anymore without seeing the heels rise further and further into the stratosphere. Sure, they make your legs and butt look good, but is there something more psychological behind female obsession with stilettos?

Personal or business?
A columnist from the Tucson Weekly recently addressed the same issue, using Carrie Bradshaw from the popular "Sex and the City" show and Victoria Beckham – my fellow bunion sufferer – as examples of why women continually totter around in shoes that are not only hard to walk in, but may cause injury. She went on to explain that these characters may entice women to join a "club" where you have to have at least a 4-inch Blahnik to join. However, most women understand that movie stars and the shoes they wear are not practical for day-to-day routine. So why do ladies continue to festishize over high heels?

According to article, women in the workplace looking to break through the glass ceiling are often to blame – how counterproductive does that seem? Show off your mental prowess by amping up your leg appeal? The source reported that although it has been long thought that these shoes were created to attract men, many women in competition for jobs will wear high heels as an unofficial symbol of power and ambition. Shoe companies know this too – according to the source, Macy's flagship store in New York City recently unveiled the "largest shoe floor on earth," with more than 280,000 pairs of shoes, most of them heels – all of this done under a recession-fueled budget. Why? Women think heels will not only make them look good, they will also get them ahead in the business world. Apparently height matters to women as well – being literally on the same level as their male counterparts provides a "leg up," so to speak. 

Who needs 'em?
I'm here to say this: Ladies, the long-term damage that these sexy shoes will do to your feet is not worth any man or supposed career climb. Everything from back pain to bunion surgery can be in your future if you continue these unhealthy trends. Just look at all these growing numbers of women in CEO positions … do you think they are tottering around in heels? I don't think so! Using your smarts to get ahead in business is always a better move than putting your feet through torture. 

England’s most successful foot model dishes about pain in the feet

This woman may have the luckiest job in the world. Who wouldn't want to get paid $4,500 a photo session to trot around in designer Louboutins and get free pedicures? Although it wouldn't be nearly as sexy, maybe I should get into modeling devices like the Bunion Brace to earn a few extra dollars on the side?

In the foot-obsessed British publication, the Daily Mail, Gemma Howorth lives in the posh neighborhood of Chelsea in London's stylish west side and recently explained what the best job in the world entails. Apparently, it isn't nearly as glamorous as I thought. Even though Howorth does get fabulous free shoes and pedicures 24/7, she has to do everything short of obtaining an insurance plan to make sure her feet are in top condition.

"A bunion could be the end of my career, so anything other than comfy flats are strictly reserved for special occasions." she told the Daily Mail. "I do keep a few pairs that I love in my wardrobe – but mostly I just have to admire them from afar."

Howorth went on to explain that teetering around in sexy heels is dangerous not only because of a pesky bunion, but possible trips and falls. I have seen this happen numerous times on my nights out with my BFF. After my friend has more than two vodka and sodas, she takes at least one tumble (and at least a handful of toddler strolls) in her stilettos. To save myself from embarrassment and further injury, I'm usually on Howorth's side – I'll stick to my trusty flats every time.

If Ms. Howorth has a big shoot coming up, she will camp out in her apartment for days wearing nothing but UGGs and rubbing lotion onto her feet. She told the source that she has spent thousands of dollars in moisturizing treatments for her toesies. Talk about your foot-friendly professional investment! Apparently, I am in the wrong profession. A weekend of painting my toes and rubbing my bunion with the best treatments on the market sounds like paradise.

However, modeling feet can put a damper on your social life. Howorth has said that she has missed out on parties and social events in the past because of the attention she has to give to her feet. 

Don't take it from me, ladies – take it from one of the world's best foot models and save those heels for special occasions. A bunion is an ugly, annoying thing – but it can be avoided.

A ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’-themed pedicure for my bunion? Sign me up!

I am not ashamed to admit that I haven't been able to put down the ever-so-popular page turner "Fifty Shades of Grey," a book so tawdry I think that, like bunions, I wouldn't mention the details in mixed company. However, some women are embracing both of these female favorites (where can I meet these gals?), according to Glamour magazine.

Oprah, another woman who like myself knows all about bunions, was a pioneer in the book club phenomenon in the 1990s, making reading posh again. Heck, today authors are lining up to get Oprah's stamp of approval – a nod from her has sent many writers into superstardom. Today the book club has now evolved its way from the bedside table to the foot spa, and I couldn't be happier about it. According to a recent fashion article in The New York Times, the hottest pedicures in the Big Apple don't involve flesh-eating fish or lasers, but simply a glass of wine, a fabulous pedicure and good conversation about the latest bestseller.

You may be thinking, "Bunion-Ella, you mentioned 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' are you sure there isn't any bondage going on with this new pedicure fad?" Nope. In fact, you can get a deep-tissue massage and discuss practically any book on the market. Although this recent foot phenomenon has taken off with high-society ladies in the Big Apple, women from Texas to California are slowly picking up on the trend.

Apparently authors are capitalizing on this foot rub phenomenon too. The Times reported that some authors have held female-geared book signings and meet-and-greets inside the foot spas themselves. The best part about this? You could get your bunion rubbed and talk to your favorite writer at the same time. The foot spas are happy about this as well, because it gives them much-needed exposure and promotion. It's not a surprise that women love pedicures, and the pressure is on for many foot spas to find the next "it" fad to get ladies into the massage chairs during the cold winter months when many ladies forego the luxury of a good foot rub.

There have been some wacky pedicure fads pop up out of NYC in the past – but this is first one in awhile that I can actually get on board with. When the next edition of "Fifty Shades" comes out – you'll know where to find me.