Are women's footwear to blame for a common foot ailment? Bunions are the nasty and sometimes painful bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe. When the joint is positioned out of alignment for long periods of time, especially when the body's weight rests on it while walking, an enlarged area can form.
Who gets bunions, also known as Hallux valgus? They tend to form more frequently in older people, as 35.7 percent of bunions form on people over age 65. More women than men get bunions, leading some doctors to speculate that years of wearing ill-fitting shoes can be one factor that increases your risk of developing this deformity.
And while there are many possible treatments for bunions, including shoe inserts and splints, surgery is often most effective in returning the joint to its previous size and reducing pain.
So you might be best served by choosing shoes that reduce your risk of developing bunions. Here are four things your shoes must have to keep bunions at bay.
1. A low heel.
You probably don't want to go through life never wearing a shoe with a heel over 1 inch, but for your foot health, you shouldn't wear higher heels on a regular basis. Limit high heels to special occasions, like church, weddings or parties, and don't wear them if you'll be doing a lot of walking.
2. Flexible material.
Shoes made of, for example, patent leather can be stiff and unforgiving. Buy softer leather or stretchable cloth footwear whenever you can. Anything you wear should stretch and move with your feet -- and yes, you can find attractive shoes that are not stiff.
3. A wide toe box.
Even if you have narrow feet, you want to make sure you have a nice, wide toe box that lets your toes move. A shoe that stays on your heel but gives you plenty of space for your toes can be tricky to find but worth looking for. Try to find loafers and clogs for the best and most attractive results.
4. Good traction.
Without good traction, you'll be slipping and sliding as you move, which can put more stress on your feet. For smooth-bottomed dress shoes that you already own or can't live without, you can purchase thin pads that adhere to the sole and provide more grip.
Look for these four things when you buy your next pair of shoes. Pamper your feet with comfortable shoes throughout your life and your odds of developing bunions and other foot malformations will be lower.
For more information, contact Affiliated Ankle & Foot Care Center or a similar location.