Killer Heels: What Your Favorite Shoes Are Doing to Your Feet

Our smart, no-judgment guide to wearing cute shoes and sexy heels without too much torture.
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I love my shoes. But they don't love me. Want proof? On the top shelf of my closet sits a sleek navy box. Inside are the gorgeous aubergine, crocodile-patterned high-heel pumps I bought to wear to my nephew's wedding. It was a lovely evening with family I rarely see, and I don't remember one bit of it. All I remember is sitting out the dancing because I couldn't feel my toes. They had gone completely, scarily numb. My comfy cork sandals don't love me, either. I've stumbled sideways off the platform so many times I'm surprised that I haven't sprained an ankle. Then there are the seemingly sensible leopard-print flats that carve a bump into my heels and the all-too-floppy flip-flops that make my arches feel as if they're on fire.

Chances are excellent that you've also worn a pair or two of cruel shoes and regretted it. Nearly 90 percent of women have suffered because of painful footwear, according to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, and it isn't just minor annoyances like blisters and calluses. About two-thirds report heel pain and almost a fifth report pinched nerves, according to the study. And those are just two shoe-related maladies: Others include permanent deformities such as bunions and hammertoes.

These aren't just old-lady problems, either. Shoe-related foot trouble begins when you're young, develops over time, and has much to do with choices you make now. Still in her 30s, Victoria Beckham already has had bunions, brought about in part by the super-high heels she wears. She's paid the price, says Leora Tanenbaum, author of Bad Shoes & the Women Who Love Them. "Gorgeous shoes create ugly feet -- how ironic." Keep in mind that with 26 bones, 33 joints, and 100-plus muscles, tendons, and ligaments, your foot is the foundation for your entire body, so you don't want to screw it up.

Continued on page 2:  Blame It on Gaga

 

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