Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Timberland Boots - Are They Really Making a Comeback??

I just read an article about Timberland Boots from the 90's making a comeback!   The fashion site listed them as fall's must-have footwear.  Yah!!   I think we all still have them in our closets, waiting for that hiking trip that never happened.

So are they really a fashion statement?  Are they that different from my daughter's vintage Doc Martens?  Or her current Doc Martens? 

I may not be the person to answer those questions, but I am the person to answer the questions about their function and support and how they are for the feet!

Most bulky boots, like Timberlands, have an intrinsic arch support within them.  Many of them are removable so that you can put your custom orthotics in them to be able to benefit from them on a daily basis.  The boots have a supportive heel so they are great for those with plantar fasciitis or heel spurs.  The forefoot of the rugged style boots is boxy in shape so they are great for people who have bunions.  The heel height of Timberlands is usually less than an inch and a half, so they are great for all of us to ensure stability when we walk.

Unless of course, people start to consider alternatives.....

 All in all, I couldn't be happier from a professional point of view. 

From a fashion point of view, however...................

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Is it Okay to Buy Shoes from a Resale Shop?

The simple answer, of course, is no.  I often get asked a similar question about children wearing hand me down shoes.  Shoes can contain infectious organisms including fungus and even the viruses that cause warts.  Shoes that have uneven wear on the heels can negatively impact your balance and the way you walk.  Shoes that are “well worn” may have adapted to foot deformities that the other person had and may cause problems for you.


With “thrifting” a new trend and the popularity of wearing vintage clothes (and shoes even though the thought of that is gross to many of us), it is harder and harder to resist the buys you might find at a resale shop or vintage store!  How can anyone resist these gorgeous Kenneth Cole boots that were in near perfect condition that were only $3.50 at the local thrift store?

So, instead of telling you NO, I would rather tell you how to spot a shoe that may be in near perfect condition!
First, of course, look at the material of the shoe itself (other than the sole).  This is called the upper.  It will be easy for you to decide if it is in good condition – look for scuffs, scratches, tears, etc.  Those are the things you would already be looking at.  Next,  look at the sole.   The sole should be not worn or thinned.  However, if you do find a pair of shoes that you MUST have and the sole is worn down, it can be taken to a shoe maker and re-soled.  Finally, look at the heel.  There should be minimal wear on the heel and they should not be worn if the wear is uneven, with a thin side of the heel present and a thicker side present on the other side of the heel same heel.  Again, a shoe maker can re-heel the shoes but make sure it’s just the heel that is affected and it is repaired before you wear them.

So once you have decided that the shoes are too cute to pass up and you get over the gross-ness of wearing someone else’s shoes, you do need to concern yourself with infectious agents lurking inside the shoe.  There are products out there that can be used to disinfect the inside of the shoe.   We do sell one such product in our office.  We generally use it when someone has athlete’s feet, fungal nails or sweaty feet.  Odor and moisture can mean bacteria and fungus, even in your own shoes!

No matter how cute the shoes you have found may be, fit is as important with thrift finds as much as it is with new shoes.  Shoes should be tried on at the end of the day when your feet have most of their natural swelling, tried on with proper hosiery and shoes should be of the right style and height for your foot type. 

Many of our patients come in for a shoe evaluation which includes a full foot evaluation including foot type, evaluating possible or current deformities and discussing progression of foot problems.  Most foot problems are progressive due to our bearing weight and walking on them all day long!
And yes, those gorgeous $3.50 Kenneth Cole boots are mine!

Monday, June 24, 2013


I was interviewed over the weekend about "quick cures" for blisters that arise from shoes.  As I explained to the reporter, blisters are a result of friction from your skin against a surface.  The scenario was what to do if you developed a blister while on your way to work and had no other shoes to change into.  It was ironic, because last week, I had a similar problem.  I was going to an out of town meeting and only had the shoes I was wearing and developed a blister while at the airport on my way there!

Blisters can be caused by straps that lay across the toes (as in my case) or from shoes that don't fit well.  Shoes that are too big and cause irritation from the foot moving around in the shoe, or from parts of the shoe that are too tight.  Your body tries to protect itself from the irritation by producing fluid as a cushion that collects under the skin.


The best way to protect a small blister while you need to continue wearing those same shoes is to apply something that conforms to the toe to prevent further friction. 

I like to carry a self adhesive 1 inch bandage with me at all times.  One name brand is Coban. You just wrap it around the affected toe.

 You can easily keep a small piece of this in your wallet and it will be there ready to use in a toe emergency!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Return of the Two Inch Heel!!!

I can't tell you how excited I was to see the article in this past Sunday's Chicago Tribune.   Finally, wearing a lower, safer show is fashionable! 

Heels that are over 3 inches cause so many problems on the ball of the foot.  Neuromas, torn ligaments, displaced and worn out fat padding and even metatarsal stress fractures are related to high heels.  But you all know that already.

So I am just going to share my story with you.  Recently, I purchased this fabulous pair of vintage designer European shoes that have a metallic heel.  I had no idea that they were back in style until I say the article and the photos of almost the exact shoe with a metallic heel!


I wore them to work yesterday and was so excited!  The only problem I had was that the front was somewhat rigid - you need to watch for that in a shoe that is constructed with stiff materials as this one was.  I wasn't able to wear my orthotics in them as they cause too much pressure on the forefoot.  Its okay to skip the orthotics once in awhile if they are not being used for an acute problem.

Check out the Chicago Tribune Article. 


Friday, March 29, 2013

Bunion Surgery for High Heels

I just saw a news piece that aired in Chicago yesterday morning that equated bunion surgery with wearing high heels.  While many women have bunions and surgical correction is advantageous - and considering that I don't oppose women wearing heels (safely) - I normally do not think of correcting bunions as a means of returning to heels. 

The story was about a newer bunion correction technique that was developed here in Chicago and while the jury is still out of any benefits of this technique (and I have heard of many complications from this particular technique), what bothered me with the news story was linking this technique with wearing high heels.  I think it was a stretch to put the two together.

So often, I am approached by the media to do a story on "cosmetic" foot surgery.  They are looking for stories of patients that have foot surgery so that they can look better, feel better and wear shoes better.   That scenario describes almost every one of my surgical patients but I wouldn't describe their surgeries as cosmetic!

The media is fixated on the idea of cosmetic foot surgery and while some surgeons on the east and west coast have found a niche marketing surgery that way, really, foot surgery is almost never cosmetic.  Bunions are deformities of the bones and joints in the foot - so are hammertoes.  Long toes lead to jamming and hammertoes - all medical issues and medically necessary corrections if someone decides to have them operated on.  Clearly, there are huge medical benefits to correct these deformities not to mention saving you from years of pain down the road.

So do bunions have a relationship with high heels?  Yes, bunions can interfere with wearing high heels - but bunions can interfere with wearing sneakers as well!  Bunions are usually progressive, often hereditary and can cause pain and interfere with your daily activities and all your daily shoe wear if not treated!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sarah Jessica Parker - Did She Say High Heels and Cheap Shoes??

I love Sarah Jessica Parker.  I love Sex and the City.  I love high heels.  But do I love the recent comments she made in Net-a-Porter about heels, cheap shoes and foot problems?  No! 

Lets see what they said she said.

Sarah Jessica Parker, we all know, is known for her many years of day to day wearing of beautiful, extravagant and expensive high heel shoes during Sex and the City.  In fact, in the article she said,  "I worked 18-hour days and never took them off."  But during filming of I Don't Know How She Does It, she wore a pair of cheaper shoes that led to her an ankle injury.

So she went to a podiatrist and she said he said, "Your foot does things it shouldn't be able to do. That bone there... You've created that bone. It doesn't belong there."  Is that really what he said?

They said she said that she slipped because the sole of the shoe was not leather.  Certainly a non-slip sole is important;  but, I bet he said that the cost of shoe is less of a factor than the components of the shoe.  I bet he said that a wider heel shoe is a more stable shoe despite the height of the heel.  And I bet he said that a higher heel shoe is a less stable shoe despite the width of the heel.  I am wondering if she said he said anything along those lines.  I bet he did.

Lets think about what she said he said about her bones.  First of all, wearing stilettos for years in your 20's, even if your foot type finds them comfortable, will lead to foot problems in your 30's.  That's what I said he probably said.   That would certainly be what I said had she come to see me.  The shoes do hold your feet in an unnatural position and puts strain on the bones in an unnatural way.  But did he actually say that they caused a specific bone?  I doubt that is what he said.  Maybe that's not really what they said she said he said.

Wearing those sky high heels on a daily basis may cause or contribute to many bone problems such as arthritis, stress fractures, bunions and hammertoes or even cause bone spurs.  Or an even bigger problem is when you wear high heels on a daily basis, your Achilles tendon tightens and shortens and it makes it almost impossible to wear flats!  If her podiatrist had asked Ms. Parker if that was the case, I am willing to bet my most expensive shoes that he said she said yes! 

You may love wearing those heels now; but no matter who you are, Sarah Jessica Parker included, those high heels will present problems down the line if you wear them too much.  

That's all I am saying.

Friday, February 15, 2013

How High is Too High??

After watching the Grammy's and watching so many beautiful women try to walk in their heels - I felt compelled to ask this question!  Well, compelled to give a simple answer.

Too high is when you are not walking properly.  So many of the women I saw presenting or accepting a Grammy were walking with their posture changed, their gait changed and their hips, knees and feet not working as they should!

High heels not only put pressure on the feet but also on the knees and the back.  If you are wearing heel and it does not feel like you are walking heel to toe, standing straight and having your normal stride (length and rhythm of each foot step) - the shoe you are wearing are too high!!

And by the way, platforms are not much better!  Many people thing that the height of the platform negates some of the overall heel height, but I can tell you first hand that you do not have a normal walking pattern when wearing platforms.  Often, walking in platforms does not absorb shock like walking in regular shoes do and back pain becomes a problem.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Frostbite - Should Health Women Worry??

When we think of frostbite in Chicago and other large cities, most people think of the homeless and others out without proper foot protection from the elements.  But working women, especially those who commute downtown, should also be cautious!

So many of my patients commute to the city.  They take the train from Naperville or surrounding western suburbs and walk to their offices from the train.  I can tell you that most of these women are not wearing Uggs as part of their winter foot wear if there is no snow.

Most women tend to wear the same dress shoes and hosiery for their multiple block walks to and from the train - unless they wear sneakers for a previously discussed foot problem.  These shoes, or fashion boots, lack the warmth that winter boots provide and most dress shoes leave a good part of the foot exposed.  This exposure - especially when the temps dip into the teens - can lead to frostbite in some people.

Risk factors include anyone with circulation problems or diabetes but even health women should be cautious if they are smokers, take certain medications or have something called Raynaud's. 

Raynaud's is often associated with some rheumatic diseases (Raynaud's phenomenon), but it can also be present by itself   Raynaud's is fairly common - even my 15 year old daughter has it!  Toes and occasionally fingers get very cold and even turn white when exposed to cold temperatures or other stressful triggers.  It is more common in women and those who live in colder climates.  Even while at home, my daughter's second toe often turns white.

I have my daughter rewarm her toe in warm water or with a warm compress until the normal color returns to her toe; but prevention is the key with women who experience this problem.  Wearing socks (even in the house during the cold months), wearing boots when outside and limiting exposure to the very cold air.  On the really cold days, I recommend to my patients that they take a cab to and from their offices and the train.

Raynauds is a vasospastic problem of the arteries which blocks the blood flow to the toes or fingers.  Risk factors for health women include the use of cold medications that include pseudoephedrine (Chlor-Trimeton, Sudafed) and birth control pills.  Women should not smoke if they have Raynauds - its the perfect and very real reason to give my daughter not to start smoking!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Shoe Shape vs. Foot Shape

I recently saw a Rachel Ray segment that talked about "foot shape" and how wearing a shoe that is a different shape than your foot can cause deformities such as bunions and hammertoes.  If only it were that simple!

"Foot shape" as referred to in the piece is more a result of the length of your toes.  Some people  have longer second toes and others have a longer great toe.  Either way, you need to fit shoes to the longest toe.  BTW- it is said that those with longer second toes are natural born leaders!

Toe box shape - square, round or pointed -  is only one factor in shoe construction and the way they affect the feet.  Heel height, the cut of the toe box and the point at which the pointed toe shoes curve  are even more important factors!  A pointed shoe that has an extended (faux) toe can be quite comfortable for many women no matter which toe is longer.  Similarly, rounded toe shoes can often cut across the bunion area and be quite a problem.

Finally, I want to make sure everyone understands, shoes do not cause bunions!  Bunions are caused by a combination of foot type, genetics and are influenced by daily shoe wear.  Certainly, if you wore a narrow, constrictive shoe 24 hours a day for years, your foot would take on that shape; but that is rarely the case!