Kick up your heels

Published: 2011-08-01 12:43:12
Author: Raziqueh Hussain

  Before you walk the corniche, stroll along the sands, or play in the park, find out from podiatrist Dr Christina Kabbash about the best way to care for your feet in the summer heat.


This summer’s footwear fashion is all about foot-baring high heels, platforms and gladiator-style sandals — while low heels are out.

Regardless of the season, shoe fashion is always about flattering the foot and leg while pulling together the entire fashion statement. This summer, women’s footwear has combined ‘gem-stone glam’ with a barefoot look and with all this attention on heels and toenails their appearance has to be perfect.

Dr Christina Kabbash suggests that both men and women can enjoy cool and flattering sandals once they give some basic attention to care for their feet. She says, “The ‘bare look’ in footwear creates a dilemma for many women who are hiding their unsightly toenails under nail polish or are cramming their toes in small high heels: ‘Yes’, the shoes look terrific, but ‘No’ my feet don’t. But it’s not too late to do something about it and still kick up your heels in sandals."

Dr Kabbash knows a lot about feet. A world renowned orthopedic surgeon specialising in foot and ankle surgery, she is associated with Dubai Bone & Joint Centre in UAE. “One of the most memorable surgeries was the first total ankle replacement I performed with my mentor in New York City six years ago,” Dr Kabbash reveals, adding, “The patient was a previously young active man who suffered from severe ankle pain and loss of motion secondary to a bad ankle joint trauma. Restoring mobility, activity and function as an alternative to fusing the ankle, the gold standard at the time, gave a great deal of satisfaction and hope for future patients with similar issues.”

Healthy, Attractive Feet for Barefoot Season

Summertime means bare feet. At the beach, at the pool or just walking in sandals, it’s the season where your feet get to breathe. But how do you keep your feet healthy as you expose them to dangers like athlete’s foot and other maladies that can make your feet itch, swell or just look ugly? Plus you need to care for your ankle and arches, as no longer they have support from sturdy footwear being used in winter.

“Breathable shoes are important in hot climates for preventing bacterial and fungal infections of the skin. Cotton socks, which wick fluid away from the skin, should always be worn with athletic shoes and changed frequently if moisture accumulates. Keeping the foot and the spaces between the toes dry, can help prevent Athlete’s foot,” she says.

Callus build up is a response of the skin to damage whether it is from rubbing, pressure, or perhaps even heat. “If you are developing calluses on the side of your feet, it is likely your shoes are not wide enough and your feet are rubbing on the shoes in these areas,” she adds.

Corns between the toes are formed when the toe nail of one toe is rubbing against the soft  skin of an adjacent toe. Once again, it is likely that the shoes are not wide enough or a deformity is present. “Calluses on the bottom of your feet indicate too much pressure on a bony part of your foot from either walking barefoot on hard surfaces, or not wearing shoe with enough cushioning. Buildup of these calluses actually is counterproductive and increases the pressure,” she notes.

Soaking the foot in warm water for 20 minutes and then gently using a pumice stone can help reduce the calluses. Moisturising creams containing the ingredient urea can also be used to soften calluses.

Ingrown toenails can be caused by deformity of the nail bed from tight shoes, or, from trimming the nails too short at the sides of the nail. “When trimming the nail, trim straight across creating a flat nail end and avoid “rounding out” the nail,” she advices.

High Heels Are Not an Everyday Shoe:

Wearing high heels can be fashionable and may make you feel taller, but at what price? Cramming your feet into shoes with too-high heels or wearing them for too long can cause foot pain and a lot of other problems for your body such as Bunions. A bunion is a swelling at the joint where your big toe meets your foot. “High heels may injure feet in several ways. First too much pressure on the balls of the feet may destroy the natural cushioning fat pad there causing chronic pain later in life.  Lack of arch support places strain on the tendons and ligaments crucial for maintaining the arch speeding progression of a flat foot as well as making it increasingly difficult to balance in heels. Cramming toes into a small toe box may mold the toes resulting in the formation and progression of hammertoes and bunions,” she cautions.

Flip flops should be avoided by anyone suffering from plantar fasciitis(heel pain that commonly hurts the worst during the first few steps out of bed and then more as the day progresses).

Ballet flats are commonly thought of as a good shoe to wear but offer no support and very little cushioning from the shock of every day walking. “Human feet evolved over the past few million years to walk on the ground.  Hard floors and cement have only been around the past few hundred. Shoes with no cushioning are more likely to cause repetitive stress injuries and pain than shoes with cushioning,” she says."