I’ve always had a thing for feet.
Foot fetish? Not quite. My fascination with feet is specifically shoe related.
I have difficult feet, you see. Long and thin, I have extremely high arches, and toes that give E.T. a run for his intergalactic money. Since a child, I have struggled to find shoes that fit me properly, and learnt early on that anything involving velcro, multiple buckles, or shoelaces was my friend.
You can only imagine how cool I looked.
As is often the case, these difficult feet have walked me into adulthood, where they continue to cause agony. Havaianas? Can’t walk in them. Cute slingback pumps? Forget about it. Strappy stilettos? Only doable if I remain stationary.
I can’t believe I’m doing this, but…
Here are my feet.
Yes, I know.
I went to see my hero yesterday, Dr Trent* the podiatrist. The blessed Golden God Of The Foot that he is, Dr Trent knows all about difficult feet, and has nursed my trotters back to health following a running injury that persisted throughout last year.
Without getting into too much detail, my daily 7km runs started tearing the muscle from the bone on my foot - all thanks to my crap running shoes. (Hint: they rhyme with 'bikie tree bums'.)
"Maggie, you need you need proper arch support."
"Yes, Dr Trent."
"So why do you keep wearing these shoes? You may as well wear nothing on your feet."
"BUT THEY ARE SO PRETTY !" *Sobs*
And so it goes.
Interestingly, it is not only poor-support running shoes that are causing my dramatic feet issues. According to the good doc, it is my affinity for cheap and cheerful footwear that's causing the major issues.
Bad shoes are ruining our feet, ladies.
From collapsed arches to dead toenails, cracked heels to blisters galore; there is a very real cost to the cost-friendly shoes we love.
Bad shoes can shrink muscles and thicken tendons. Caused sprained ankles. Tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and ligament damage.
But wait, it gets worse - according to an article for CNN:
"The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that more than 7 out of 10 women have developed a bunion or other painful foot deformity; 9 out of 10 women's foot deformities can be tied to bad shoes."
So here it is: direct advice from Dr Trent > me > the world about why you should always opt for quality shoes. Thank me later, because what you're about to read will save you from hours of rolling tennis balls under your feet, and piles upon piles of Dr Scholls plastic shoe inserts.
Here is why those bargain bin shoes are causing you more harm than good.
A LITTLE BIT SMALL
They aren't your size, but they ARE half price. And they ARE very cute. And they ARE going to look smokin' with that cute skirt you bought for Saturday night...
Yep, we've all been there. Half a size too small isn't that bad, is it? I mean, they'll stretch, right?
Make no mistake, too tight shoes are the devil. Squeezing your hoofs into a shoe that is the wrong shape for your foot can cut off circulation, and puts extra strain on your arch, which is prevented from moving freely.
In the words of a particular fashion blogger I had the dubious pleasure of hosting at a fashion week party many years ago, "Look at all these women. Their toes look like sausages being squeezed out of their shoes."
Case in point:
Cheap shoes are made from cheap materials. I ain't judgin'. My entire outfit today is so polyester-heavy that I can't get within a 2m radius of a naked flame.
BUT - plastic or synthetic materials cause your feet to sweat. And sweaty feet not only smell awful, but they can breed bacterial infections, and cause major skin irritation.
(Did I mention I'm also allergic to synthetic shoes? The fun never ends.)
A LITTLE TOO BIG
Slip sliding around in your shoes isn't just uncomfortable, it's really bad for your feet. As your toes struggle to grip the base of the shoe, the muscles in your feet cramp up, causing strains in your ankle and archways.
Additionally, you will begin to slide forward to the front of the shoe, which pushes those poor toes against a veritable brick wall. Squished toes = broken toes, and dead toenails. *Nope*
SOLES FLATTER THAN A4 PAPER
Office genius Kahla offered up this gem yesterday: "You should always spend good money on things that go between you and the ground. So tyres, mattresses and shoes." Truth, sister.
Thin, flat soles on your cheapie-cheap shoes are obviously going to wear away quickly and leave you with holes. But there are health risks, too. Without sufficient cushioning, the base of your feet are unprotected and will fatigue the muscles quickly.
In more serious cases, small fractures can be found in the bones of your feet from constant stress against hard concrete surfaces.
Pointy toes? Skinny straps? Tiny studs that grind into your feet with every step? It is the general rule of thumb, that the sexier a shoe looks, the more painful it will be.
And trust me, I've had some sexy shoes in my time.
But what Carrie will not tell you about her Blahnik obsession is the damage they are inflicting. It goes without saying that toes were not made for being squeezed into a triangular formation, nor were we designed to balance atop 6-inch sticks. But we do.
Gingerly walking around in your uncomfortable shoes is doing more than making you look silly - poor posture can cause muscular strain up and down the spine, with extended wear leading to torn ligaments in the feet and knees.
The moment that Carrie realised her shoes were her life. (Post continues after video)
And it's only going to get worse.
Phyllis Rein,senior vice president of the Fashion Footwear Association of New York, reckons in the last few years the height of a high-heeled shoe has gone from 7cm to 12cm. Wait, what? TWELVE CENTIMETERS?
Meanwhile, thongs are now standard footwear - can you hear my collapsed arches screaming? - and thin-soled casual flats and sandals can be snapped up for twenty bucks a pair. The age of the cheap shoe is upon us.
Don't ignore the signs of poor footwear: that slightly uncomfortable shoe could lead to ankle strain. That ankle strain could lead to rolling knees. Those torn ligaments could affect your hips. And those hips could affect your posture.
Hello, I am the Grim Reaper of Footwear and I am here to tell you that those twenty-buck slip ons COULD LEAVE YOU A MANGLED CRIPPLE.
Man, I bet Dorothy never had these issues.
*Not his real name. He's fabulous, but he's MINE. Not sharing.