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High-heel Hell: High heels can be murder on feet, but some women can't kick the habit
journal times ^ | 8/24/05 | Dawn Fallik

Posted on 09/06/2005 6:41:12 AM PDT by pissant

Dawn Joslin's feet hurt so much last week that she wore sneakers to work for the first time. But there she was at lunchtime, despite corns, bunions and three major foot surgeries, sitting at Lord & Taylor's trying on high-heeled slingbacks.

Would they hurt her feet? Yes. Would she wear them anyway? Of course.

"I just like the look of them," says the 50-year-old comptroller. "I used to wear the stilettos, but gave those up in my 30s. No doctor has ever told me not to wear heels."

Blame Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolo Blahnik obsession (and her ability to run in the four-inch nightmares). Despite an excess of anatomically correct, cushioned-soled support, women won't be separated from their power spikes and pointy toes. Some are demanding cosmetic surgery - cutting off some toes and lengthening others - to make their shoes fit.

"Even though we have this incredible choice - sophisticated flats, and Prada sneakers that can cost as much as a pair of Manolo Blahniks, it's interesting that women continue to wear high heels," said Elizabeth Semmelhack, curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.

"High heels bring status and sex appeal, and that's why they're not going to go away."

Under pressure An estimated 72 percent of women wear high heels - 39 percent on a daily basis, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association - and they are paying for their addiction with bad backs, sore knees and aching feet.

"About 90 percent of my patients are women between the ages of 25 and 65 with foot pain from heels," says Joseph N. Daniel, an orthopedic surgeon at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. Most of them wear shoes at least a size too small and so pointy that toes jam and blister and bunion.

Three issues contribute to podiatric pain: support, pressure and space.

Completely flat shoes can fail to cushion heels or give arch support. High-heels shorten the calf muscle, which pulls on the lower back. Pizza shapes squish and rub toes.

At the Sheer Gait and Motion Analysis Lab at MossRehab Center in Elkins Park, Pa., Daniel often sends problem patients for gait analysis and pressure tests. Sensors are placed in their shoes, and then they take a slow 10-step stroll to the end of a runway.

The sensors show movement, pronation (leaning to one side or the other), and pressure placed on the soles.

As a tester walks on her 3-inch rubber-soled platforms, a multicolored image on a computer screen shows the red disaster zone - a circle of potential pain appears right on the ball of the foot. The red areas reflect the centers of highest pressure on the foot at 6 kilograms of pressure per square inch, compared with 2 kilograms at the rest of the foot.

Another walk down the aisle in a sensible shoe and there's not a splash of red in sight. The rocker bottom - low in the front and back, higher in the middle - and thick sole spread the pressure away from any particular area of the foot.

Doctors use the data to detect where problems are happening, to create special insoles for problem feet, or ward off problems that could arise.

But Daniel says he rarely tells patients to stay off the heels altogether. Moderation, he says - once or twice a week - is fine. Every day running around, not so much.

`Toe cleavage' The problem is that women these days are starting to ask doctors to fix their feet - not to correct problems caused by the shoes but to make their feet match their shoes.

"About three years ago, maybe 20 women called me for cosmetic surgery for their feet, and now I get about 150 calls a year," says Daniel. "There's just a greater awareness of their bodies and people are striving to achieve perfection from head to toe."

In some cases, women are actually having their toes, particularly the second toe, shortened so as to enhance their "toe cleavage."

Talena Johnson was in her podiatrist's office to treat an infection from a pedicure when she saw a picture of her feet, and didn't like the view.

"My second toe just looked bad," said the 34-year-old receptionist. "So they just made an incision and filed it down."

It took about a month to heal, and she had to wear a decidedly unsexy boot during the process.

Sean Ravaei, a Philadelphia podiatrist who performs cosmetic foot surgeries, said he's received 20 calls from high schoolers, just wanting to have perfect feet for the prom.

"They want toe-lengthening, toe-shortening, they want their foot wider or narrower - you'd be surprised at what people ask," he said.

Several other podiatrists and surgeons said they would not perform cosmetic surgery on feet because of the risk of complications with the 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles that make up the foot.

"I'm completely against cosmetic surgery on feet," said Tracey Vlahovic, a podiatrist at Temple University. "The foot takes all your weight and there's a precise biomechanical action that takes place."

One of the latest fads is to have collagen injections at the ball of the foot to replace fat pads worn away by age or the pressure by heels. But friction due to walking can make the material slide where it shouldn't and break down.

"If you mess up a nose job, it just looks bad. But if something goes wrong with foot surgery, there can be severe pain and injury," Vlahovic said. A former ballroom dancer who now lives in Birkenstocks and Masai Barefoot Technology shoes, she suffers from the hours spent dancing in heels.

Ravaei said he makes sure patients understand the risks - but he also understands where they're coming from.

"I'm very much into my looks myself," he said. "I have problems with my own feet and I have to wear shoes that are a little more cushioned."

By the numbers * About 73 percent of women say they have physical problems because of high heels.

* The number of women who wear high heels daily has decreased from 60 percent in 1986 to 39 percent in 2003.

* 44 percent of women own four to 10 pairs of high heels.

* Younger women are more likely to have blisters and arch pain. Older women have corns, calluses and bunions.

* Most women (62 percent) wear heels two inches or higher.

* Most women (73 percent) have never had their shoe size measured.


TOPICS: Business/Economy
KEYWORDS: feet; fmp; shoes
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To: pissant
Yeah, I saw you hiding that copy of Pedicured College Girls when I walked in. ;-)
51 posted on 09/06/2005 1:47:07 PM PDT by LongElegantLegs ("Nuthin' ain't worth nuthin', but it's free.")
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To: pissant

I will give up my stilettos when they pry them off my cold, dead feet......


52 posted on 09/06/2005 1:48:44 PM PDT by FeliciaCat (I like my money where I can see it...hanging in my closet.)
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To: Deb

welcome..no time no hear from..THIS thread brings you back?


53 posted on 09/06/2005 1:51:42 PM PDT by ken5050 (Ann Coulter needs to have children ASAP to pass on her gene pool....any volunteers?)
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To: najida

The only "flats" I have are platform flip flops or kitten heels..I'm with you I only have 2 1/2 - 4 inch heels and I wear them daily - work, going out, shopping. Everything. I usually plan my wardrobe around my shoes/sandals/boots.


54 posted on 09/06/2005 1:52:00 PM PDT by FeliciaCat (I like my money where I can see it...hanging in my closet.)
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To: FeliciaCat
Not trying for the obviously salacious comment, but aren't they usually referred to, especially by females, as "F**k me pumps?"
55 posted on 09/06/2005 1:53:19 PM PDT by ken5050 (Ann Coulter needs to have children ASAP to pass on her gene pool....any volunteers?)
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To: ken5050

I think they are sexy and I like how I look in them...doesnt mean I'm looking for something beyond that. Not sure what your getting at....


56 posted on 09/06/2005 1:55:52 PM PDT by FeliciaCat (I like my money where I can see it...hanging in my closet.)
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To: najida; FeliciaCat; pissant
I wear no less than 2 1/2" heels every day

I love mine also even if sometimes my feet may ache at night. I feel like I can accomplish anything when I wear them....its weird I know but heels do something on the inside!!!!
57 posted on 09/06/2005 1:57:03 PM PDT by PaulaB (Hello???)
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To: FeliciaCat
I usually plan my wardrobe around my shoes/sandals/boots.

Are we long lost sisters?

My hubby swears I am the only woman that does this ;)
58 posted on 09/06/2005 1:59:11 PM PDT by PaulaB (Hello???)
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To: LongElegantLegs

I'll leave the foot fetish for the grovelling types. I'm more interested in how the legs look and beyond. LOL


59 posted on 09/06/2005 1:59:41 PM PDT by pissant
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To: FeliciaCat

LOL. I like you!


60 posted on 09/06/2005 2:00:03 PM PDT by pissant
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To: PaulaB

Not only for you either! ;o)


61 posted on 09/06/2005 2:00:54 PM PDT by pissant
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To: pissant

Naw......alive and kickin......I have a really good kick..


62 posted on 09/06/2005 2:03:27 PM PDT by marmar (435 CASF..Ramstien Germany.....Bringing the Wounded Warriors Home....)
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To: PaulaB

LOL! I have had to "hide" my new shoes from my BF as I have run out of closet space and they have taken over the closets, most of the floor space under and around bed.....I have converted bookshelves into shoe shelves! My first NYC apartment was a tiny walk-up wih this little joke of a "kitchenette"...the oven and four cabinets immediately became my new shoe room.

If any of the above sounds familiar..we could be long lost family!


63 posted on 09/06/2005 2:04:25 PM PDT by FeliciaCat (I like my money where I can see it...hanging in my closet.)
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To: pissant

I like my combat boots.


64 posted on 09/06/2005 2:07:01 PM PDT by CheneyChick
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To: pissant

Well, don't get me started on girdles........we used to wear them too........thank goodness for "control top" panty hose. LOL


65 posted on 09/06/2005 2:16:02 PM PDT by Dawgreg (Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.)
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To: marmar

Like a habernero pepper??


66 posted on 09/06/2005 2:17:40 PM PDT by pissant
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To: CheneyChick

Paired with a mini-skirt?


67 posted on 09/06/2005 2:18:22 PM PDT by pissant
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To: Dawgreg

I think Corsets are making a comeback. LOL


68 posted on 09/06/2005 2:19:06 PM PDT by pissant
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To: pissant

Chuckle.........


69 posted on 09/06/2005 2:19:51 PM PDT by marmar (435 CASF..Ramstien Germany.....Bringing the Wounded Warriors Home....)
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To: pissant
OK...now yer makin' me mad.

Recipe for wearing high heels....

1. Get your legs in shape...particularly your calves and the muscles that run along the front of your shins...BEFORE you attempt to wear these!

2. Try on as many pairs of these as you possible can until you find the perfect fit. The excuse of "they'll stretch after you wear them a few times." is just that - an excuse. They MUST fit perfectly in the store.

3. 4 to 6 inch heels are best...anything higher is a waste.

4. After wowing your sweety during a hot night...have your sweety give you a nice foot rub after removing each shoe.

5. Put them back on (with or without sheer nylons) for some very interesting and highly provocative bed time activities.

6. Most important - NEVER, NEVER, NEVER wear with pantyhose....unless your sweety "brightens" at the mention!

4.

70 posted on 09/06/2005 2:23:04 PM PDT by LilDarlin (Being very feminine got me this far; it will get me the rest of the way, too!)
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To: LilDarlin

Making you mad? I'm the heel advocate 'round here. And yes, #6 does brighten things, IMO!!


71 posted on 09/06/2005 2:25:14 PM PDT by pissant
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To: pissant
I'm seriously considering retiring all my heels. These look pretty & comfortable...


72 posted on 09/06/2005 2:25:42 PM PDT by LongElegantLegs ("Nuthin' ain't worth nuthin', but it's free.")
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To: LongElegantLegs

Thongs are better suited to other locales! ;o)


73 posted on 09/06/2005 2:26:58 PM PDT by pissant
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To: pissant
I'm the heel advocate 'round here.

You have a sister solidly behind you!

And yes, #6 does brighten things, IMO!!

IMOA!! - and I have some incredible experiences to back up MO!

74 posted on 09/06/2005 2:32:50 PM PDT by LilDarlin (Being very feminine got me this far; it will get me the rest of the way, too!)
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To: LongElegantLegs

They do look very pretty...but you won't be allowed into some very fine resaurants with these!


75 posted on 09/06/2005 2:34:02 PM PDT by LilDarlin (Being very feminine got me this far; it will get me the rest of the way, too!)
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To: LilDarlin

LOL. I have some fond recollections of my own! ;o)


76 posted on 09/06/2005 2:38:50 PM PDT by pissant
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To: LilDarlin

Yeah, well, I might be kept out of these same restaraunts for wearing some of my more...interesting heels, anyway. ;-)


77 posted on 09/06/2005 3:27:25 PM PDT by LongElegantLegs ("Nuthin' ain't worth nuthin', but it's free.")
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To: LongElegantLegs
Yeah, well, I might be kept out of these same restaraunts for wearing some of my more...interesting heels, anyway. ;-)

You go, girl!!

78 posted on 09/06/2005 4:37:56 PM PDT by LilDarlin (Being very feminine got me this far; it will get me the rest of the way, too!)
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To: pissant

They never left.......LOL


79 posted on 09/06/2005 5:54:41 PM PDT by Dawgreg (Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.)
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To: pissant

I'm barefoot as much as possible - but you know that.

;-)


80 posted on 09/06/2005 9:02:46 PM PDT by Dashing Dasher (Don't stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed. -- George Burns)
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To: jalisco555
Personally I thing women pressure each other to wear these ankle breakers.

YES - they do. I could never bear high heels, and in my younger days was conspicuous for wearing lace-up flats. I really do not think that any man who knew me even noticed them. Women, however, were always teasing me about my shoes and asking me when I would get a "nice" pair. (When my brains fall out of my head.)

I had to wait until the 1990s, when grunge fashions made the most heavy shoes fashion items, then these stupid women thought I was ok.

81 posted on 09/06/2005 9:25:15 PM PDT by BlackVeil
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To: Dashing Dasher

and in the kitchen...


82 posted on 09/07/2005 6:52:29 AM PDT by pissant
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To: ken5050

I'm in and out when I can. Good to see you too.


83 posted on 09/07/2005 12:49:00 PM PDT by Deb (Beat him, strip him and bring him to my tent!)
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To: Deb

Back at ya..and I trust all is well in your life..


84 posted on 09/07/2005 1:10:56 PM PDT by ken5050 (Ann Coulter needs to have children ASAP to pass on her gene pool....any volunteers?)
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