Solutions for women who won't give up their painful shoes

Published: 2011-04-19 11:50:41

  Aithyni Rucker recently found herself in an area of the shoe department she had never previously explored. The area committed to comfort first and style second -- or third or fourth. The 30-year-old attorney updated her Facebook status while she contemplated her purchase: "You know you're getting old when you're debating soft-soled shoes."

Rucker is one of many women who suffer for the sake of a stylish shoe. Her fondness of 5-inch Steve Madden platforms and 4½-inch Jessica Simpson strappy sandals has resulted in a case of tendonitis and at least one morning in which she woke up to a severe stabbing pain in the bottom of her foot.

Still, after an hour of sole searching, Rucker left the comfortable shoe department empty-handed and found her way back to her old friends Steve and Jessica. When will she trade in the orthopedic nightmares for something less painful? "Never," she says. "Well, maybe when I'm 90. Or when my feet tell me I can't anymore. Or when (my podiatrist) yells at me."

Her reasoning may not make sense to everyone, but to other fashion-conscious women it makes all the sense in the world. Comfortable shoes "just aren't cute."

Dr. Christine Clark, a local podiatrist who counts Rucker as a client, has heard those words too many times to count. They usually come shortly after Clark explains exactly how their bunions and/or hammer toes formed. Instability from excessively high heels causes the former and improper fit explains the latter. Translation: A pair of pointy-toed stilettos will make your feet look pretty -- until it's time to take them off.

"What we're seeing now are 5-inch heels and women think they're great because they're platforms," Clark says. The extra distance between the foot and floor convince women they aren't doing as much damage. On the contrary, Clark says a platform with height will spur back and knee problems on top of foot problems.