Friday, May 8, 2015

Eight Tips for Buying Painless Shoes

There is nothing that touches and bonds all women like seeing someone in shoe hell (a.k.a. painful shoes). The signs; a stiff posture and a stilted walk, are dead giveaways. I'm sure we all can spot and sympathize with the experience ... We've all been there. Those pretty shoes never look quite as pretty when you consider the visual evidence of the pain they're inflicting.

In April of 2014, The New York Times featured an article on the rise in the cosmetic foot procedures women are getting  to deal with the foot pain and injuries from wearing fashionable heels. The popular trends in foot procedures include the lengthening or shortening of the toes, and injecting or surgically adding extra padding to the balls of the feet.

These pretty extreme options have been dubbed the Cinderella procedures ... A reference to the stepsisters who try, in vain, to make the glass slipper fit.

Here are my less-drastic tips to avoid shoe pain...

  1. Know Your Size - Measure your foot. It’s good to know the exact length of your foot, especially when shopping online. Here is a link to a great size chart, courtesy of Zappos:

  2. Understand The Real Deal - A lot of foot pain comes from not understanding that certain types of shoes are meant for certain functions. Shoes basically fit into three categories:

  3. Stuart Weitzman
    • The Workers - This is the category for the shoes you generally live in for work, meetings or events that will involve some standing and brisk walking.

    •  The Performers - These are the "Dog & Pony Show" shoes. ... They are pretty but meant to be worked briefly ... A few steps from the car to your seat. Think statement shoes for the red carpet.

    • The Players - This category is for the relaxing, sports styles. Think down time, the beach, open air festivals and markets, etc.

  4. Soft Material - The only types of shoes that should feel somewhat hard are construction and military styles ... Shoes that are designed to protect your feet.

  5. Well-Made - A quality shoe will often be sewn (instead of being glued). Shoes should be lined in leather or suede, including the straps. Other quality indicators include leather or sturdy rubber/lug soles, in addition to good support and padding.

  6. Smooth Inside Texture - Glide your hand gently across the inside of the shoes (the top, heel area and footbed). Note if you feel stitching, grommets, mesh, or anything other than a smooth lining. What your hand feels, your feet will definitely feel. The slightest friction will rub when you're wearing the shoes ... possibly leading to calluses and/or blisters.

  7. Ample Room - You need room for your toes. Shoes that are tight in the toe-box area can lead to corns ... Toes that rub the inside tip of the shoe can lead to split toenails. Hoping it will stretch some? Just walk away if you aren't willing to have it done by a shoe cobbler. Stretching out a shoe yourself is just not worth the pain and possible damage to your foot.

  8. Flexible - The goal is to have a little give (so the shoes can move with you), while avoiding flimsy shoes with no side support ... You know, the ones that just sit out on the sides. My test is to gently try to bend the shoe in half (Remember, you’re testing the shoe, not damaging it.). It should bend just before where the arch would start, but resist bending in the middle or near the heal area.

  9. Alexander McQueen

  10. Solid Heels - Make sure the shoe heel solidly supports the heel of your foot. You want to avoid the heels that feel like they could break, are not centered under the foot, or move while walking. Also make sure they don't feel a little wobbly or look like the bottom of the heel will twist.

The ultimate goal is for shoes to be both fab & functional. Remember, a fab shoe is not so fab if it hurts.