Women have about 4 times as many foot problems as men, often due to choices in footwear. Bunions, hammertoes, metatarsalgia, corns, calluses, neuromas, ankle sprains and ingrown toenails are all conditions that are directly caused by or, at the very least, made worse by tight-fitting, high heeled shoes. Wearing heels over 2 inches high changes the natural walking motion, shifting the weight to the forefoot and toes. At the other end of the spectrum, ballet flats, with absolutely no heel can also lead to knee, hip and back problems, because they have no arch support at all. Things to consider when buying footwear:
- Moderation is key. It's best not wear high heels every day.
- Consider shoes with cushioned soles or if you wear dress shoes
- Compare the shape of your foot and the shape of the front of the shoe. Choosing shoes that better match the shape of your foot will create less pinching.
- Lowering your heel height by even an inch and wearing a wider heel will make a big difference.
- Do lots of stretching for your calf muscles. This is especially important if you wear high heels at work, since your calf muscle undergoes shortening and will be over-stressed once it is placed in a lower sports shoe.
- Consider orthotics, which can be trimmed to fit a dress shoe and can also be shortened to reach just the ball of your foot so they don’t make the toe box area of the shoe too tight.
- Wear good quality running shoes or walking shoes; this will make shopping, prolonged walks or your journey to and from work more comfortable.
- Slip your shoes off, do some circles with each foot and up-and-down motions with your toes while sitting at your work desk, which will enable your feet muscles to relax and stretch.
Women who always wear nylon pantyhose are at risk of developing fungal infections like athletes foot. Nylon doesn't breath and can cause excessive sweating, an ideal environment for fungus. Like socks, panyhose should be washed after each use. Also, be sure panyhose are properly fitted around the foot. If there aren't allowing the normal expansion of the foot when walking, they can contribute to cramping, ingrown toenails and hammertoes.
Due to the natural weight gain during pregnancy, a woman's center of gravity is completely altered. This causes a new weight-bearing stance and added pressure to the knees and feet, possible leading to pain at the heel, arch, or the ball-of-foot. One of the most common foot problems experienced by pregnant woman is edema. Edema results from the extra blood accumulated during pregnancy. The enlarging uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvis and legs causing circulation to slow down and blood to pool in the extremities. To avoid retaining water, stay hydrated and eat a well balanced diet, low in salt. If swelling is not symmetrical in both feet, this may be a sign of a vascular problem and a doctor should be contacted immediately.
Many women may also experience leg cramping and varicose veins due to weight gain. Because of this, it is important for all pregnant women to learn more about foot health during their pregnancy to help make this nine month period more comfortable for them.
Feet can experience many changes during the ageing process. It is surprising how many women haven't had their feet measured since they were teenagers, even though shoe size often increases with age. This is especially true if a woman has had children or had a significant weight loss or gain. Additionally the fat pads on the bottom of the feet often deteriorate in the ageing process. It is important to have feet measured from time to time and to wear properly fitted, well constructed shoes.