The pros and cons of wearing heels

Your girlfriends may tell you that strapping your toes into stilettos will boost your confidence, make your legs look longer, give you a skinnier-looking figure or make you look more stylish. But what are the short-term and long-term effects? Is it really worth it – especially if you get a bunion in the process?

A little history …
This was shocking even for me — and trust me, I've heard it all — but high heels have been around since the 1500s. However, it wasn't damsels or Renaissance princesses donning these shoes, it was men. Seriously … you have to chuckle a bit at that fun fact. Oh, the irony! Could it be that males are actually the first humans in history to get bunions from heels? It's highly possible! Despite its slightly amusing past, these painful yet sexy shoes are now one of the fashion features that women especially love to hate.

Pros
This really isn't rocket science. We all know why women wear heels – it gives you the idea that you look and feel like a million bucks, especially if you are one of the shorter gals out there. As a bonus, many people believe that these shoes accentuate curves by bringing your chest forward and your waistline back.

Although this is not safe or healthy for your legs – the calf muscles contract and adjust to the angle of high heels. This gives the illusion that you have been working out (even if you have been slacking off at the gym). However, the biggest reason women totter around in heels is because it makes your legs look longer.

Cons
The negative effects of stilettos are much less talked about, but I know for a fact that they're alive and well. You know that feeling when you take off your stilettos at the end of the day? That horrible foot pain is not normal, ladies. As much as I hate to admit it – these shoes are killers for foot health and can even cause irreversible damage.

You can easily get hammertoes or bunions since feet are crammed into tight, narrow spaces. However, there is also a risk for ankle sprains, knee and back pain and just plain falling flat on your face.

To save yourself this kind of embarrassment and possible bunion pain, stick with a pair of sexy flats and tone up those legs on the treadmill to look your best.

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Why women are more likely to get the bunion blues

It is almost sadly ironic that women bear the brunt of a lot of foot problems out there. Not only do we bear children and pound the pavement while trying to break our industry's glass ceiling, we are inhibited from wearing the shoes we love because of annoying bunions!

Ladies, I have lived with this my whole life … and trust me, things are hard out there for us ladies – especially when it comes to feet. Yes, even our poor toes have to undergo more torment than our male counterparts. This is why my orthotic and a bottle of pain reliever are mainstays in my bathroom closet – and should be part of yours if you are currently suffering from a stubborn, painful bony bump:

• The odds are against you, gals. Most women will develop bunions at some point or another. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 55 percent of women will develop a bunion over the course of their lifetime. Another startling statistic? A whopping 88 percent of women wear shoes that are too small for them! Take it from me – it is worth it to get your feet properly sized – the bunions you might get are definitely not worth it, ladies!
• I hate to be the one to break it to you, friends: But those 5-inch Louboutins have got to go if you are suffering from a bunion. As much as I hate to admit it – most high-end fashion designs don't think about comfort or arch support. Tight, narrow heels can be to blame for your issues, but according to a blog post from Steve Rosenberg on the Huffington Post, acute slopes in shoes can even cause muscle spasms – who wants that?
• It doesn't get any better if you have a bun in the oven, either. In fact, Rosenberg claims that women's feet change dramatically during pregnancy because of a hormone called relaxin. This is good because it allows your foot ligaments to stretch and provide extra support for weight gain, but unfortunately – your flat feet might get bunions, and might never be the same again (but it's all worth it for that bundle of joy, right?)

Women everywhere – take care of your feet as much as your hair, skin or nails. Prevention is key when it comes to bunions, and I don't want your pretty little feet to become a painful statistic!

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So long, 2012! Enter: Winter’s worst foot problems

The ball has dropped, I have finally recovered from my hangover from New Year's Eve and have started to get back into the grind of daily life after the hub bub of the holidays. Although I thought rushing around for gifts and dancing the night away a few nights ago was going to to be the main cause of my foot pain, I have Old Man Winter to thank instead.

In case you haven't noticed yet … it's cold! I mean – really, really cold. Although my feet take a beating year-round, my toes are especially tempermental once the temperatures start to drop. Although I have my good ol' orthotics that easily fit into my snug winter boots to help avoid bunions, there is little this device can do to protect my feet from the harsh winter winds.

In lieu of another wave of winters storms headed across the country at the start of 2013, I thought I'd give a few helpful hints about how to keep your feet looking and feeling great during these chilly months that lie ahead:

• This should be common sense to most of you, but make sure to wear warm boots during this time of year … the only thing worse than a bunion is a frostbitten one! I don't know about you guys, but I am planning on staying indoors. However, if you plan on hitting the slopes or braving the ice – make sure to pair those boots with some warm, wool socks.
• If you prefer to be curbside, take caution in walking on sidewalks too. Not all merchants are concerned with salting the outside of their establishments, so it is important to take extra time and care when window shopping.
• According to Daily Glow, cracked heels and flaky skin can making walking less-than-desirable when icy winds begin to blow. Although it isn't pretty, you aren't the only one. Wearing moisturizing socks at night or simply rubbing a cream-based solution – like body butter – on your feet can help keep your toes pretty and soft.
• Everyone knows I love a good pedicure, but even I have had to be careful about soaking my feet for too long. Hot water can zap your skin dry – making the effects of a pedi not seem worth it.

As always, make sure to invest in the right shoes – especially in the winter. Keeping your feet healthy and moisturized now will make your feet look great once swimsuit season (eek!) returns.

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2012’s worst celebrity bunions

As 2012 draws to a close, I often pause and reflect about everything I have experienced in the past year and draw out what my new year's resolution will be. If there is anything I have learned this year – besides the Mayans being wrong and how long-winded elections are – it is that women, typically celebrities, do not know how to take care of their feet!

To keep a reminder of why I need to love my toes at all times, I have compiled a list of the worst celebrity bunions of 2012. If you haven't already, pop open some bubbly, kick off your flats (because you shouldn't be wearing heels this NYE) and view some of the worst celebrity feet on the market!

• Michelle Yeoh, probably best known for her performance in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," may want hide those bunions instead. Donning a pair of silver strappy heels (of course) at a red carpet event this year, her blistered and bony bump was on full display.
• Serena Williams. Although we don't want to judge her too harshly after her stunning performance at this year's Olympic games in London, (Winning gold medals with bunions? Don't say it can't be done!) we hope that this dynamic tennis star is wearing an orthotic when she isn't dominating the courts.
• Uma Thurman. What can I say? A woman this tall should probably ditch the heels. Not only does this starlet not need them, they are wreaking havoc on her toes!
• Katie Holmes. Although I totally understand the need to "step out" after a messy public divorce with someone like Tom Cruise, perhaps a night in caring for her painful, blistered feet might do her some good in 2013.
• Paris Hilton. Years of partying in stilettos and jet-setting in Louboutins are starting to take a toll on this heiress' feet. Although we applaud her for growing up a bit in recent years, it wouldn't kill her to try out a pair of flats from time to time.
• Naomi Campbell. She's not the first runway model to have foot problems, and she certainly won't be the last as long as high heels remain the industry standard for footwear.
• Posh Spice (a.k.a. Victoria Beckham). OK, she technically had surgery to get rid of her painful bunions, but I predict that those pesky bumps are going to return soon, since this pop diva did not learn her footwear lesson in 2012.

All I have to do is look at these ladies' feet to know why I will be wearing flats for NYE – with bunions like those, it just doesn't seem worth it – does it ladies? Cheers to taking care your feet, and happy New Year!

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New Year’s and Red Carpet season are here: A primetime viewing of foot pain

So the holidays are finally over, snow has completely blanketed the ground outside of my home and all I want to do is prop up my bunion on the couch and take a breather or two. After weeks and months of shopping, endless holiday parties and the annual event of being around family members I hardly ever see, I think it is time for a little distraction and well-deserved "me" time.

Enter: The New Year's and Red Carpet season! Most of you know I am obsessed with this time of year, mostly because everyone dresses to the nines, sips on champagne and dances the night away (what's not to like?). However, as I well know after watching the ball drop with foot pain for several years, your footwear is as big of a choice for these festivities as your hot date or the cab you will most assuredly be taking home later.

When it comes to fashion, we look to Hollywood for all of the trends that are going to be rocking the shelves this year. With the Golden Globes and Oscars coming up soon, you can bet that all of the beautiful people are beginning their juice cleanses, amping up their Pilates sessions, getting their faces filled with botox and practicing their walk down the Red Carpet in Louboutins (well, the ladies are anyway).

I personally have been in awe of the way that these ladies seemingly float on a cloud at New Year's parties and Red Carpet events in their high heels. I know from past events, I have had serious problems with gravity when it came to walking from my front door the car – let alone under the bright lights and glare of the cameras. According to a blog from The Huffington Post, the feet of the stars are often going through as much work as their faces to prepare for the big night, whether it be on the glittering streets of NYC on New Years or in the midst of glitz and glamour for Oscar night.

More celebs are opting for fat replacement surgery in their feet. Never heard of it? There is a reason. Although these are extreme measures, some celebs are taking the fat from their thighs and putting it into the balls of the feet for better cushioning! No offense, Hollywood, but I think I will be doing just fine with a foot insert rather than resorting to these tactics.

And besides, if you look fabulous from the ankles up, who the hell is going to be looking at your feet anyway?

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What does your foot pain say about you?

A woman's gait has been romanticized by many songwriters over the years (you know … "It's in the way she walks …"), but is there any truth to whether or not my bunions reveal a powerful first impression? Apparently so, according to the Scientific American.

From job interviews to holiday parties and many horrific first dates, I have been through more than my share of first encounters. However, I never realized how quickly we "sum up" each other based on the way we walk until I read an article from this publication.

Don't judge a book by its cover?
I know I probably spend more time than I would like to admit when it comes to judging others' footwear choices, but apparently I have sound science to back up my bad habits. Every time I make fun of Snooki taking a tumble in her crazy, bunion-inducing platforms, I am actually engaging in a behavior that scientists believe is innate in all of us. From the shoes we choose to wear and the way we move in them, our gaits reveal quite a lot about us. The Scientific American even highlighted a study that examined human reactions to participants who watched silent videos of stick figures and then recorded their observations based on body movements alone.

What they found was pretty startling to me (and you all know I have seen and heard everything). Based on gait alone, the participants determined personality traits like adventurousness, extraversion, neuroticism, trustworthiness, warmth and approachability. Who knew your feet could tell so much about you?

This applies to the bedroom as well
I know what you must be thinking … what on earth does my bunion have to do with my sex life? Well, hold onto your orthotic, because this news may be even more shocking. According to a Belgian study highlighted by Cosmopolitan magazine, your strut can reveal quite a bit when it comes to the way you move under the sheets.

Yep, you heard that right. According to their findings, women who have a more fulfilling sex life take longer strides and move their hips more. Their findings were spot-on too, as the sex researchers were able to pinpoint the walkers with better sex lives with 81 percent accuracy. And you thought your gait was all about your personality, huh?

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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.

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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?

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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).

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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.

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