On the right foot

Written by Kiran Yadav | Updated: Jan 27 2008, 04:37am hrs
Remember Devil Wears Prada How the women at Runway slipped out of their sombre sandals into killer stilettos (fit for Cindrella) just before devil Meryl Streep walked into office. Clearly, if it were not for the devil, they may not have worn them at all. Or so it seems. But for most others wearing fashionable pumps, wedges or spiked-heels comes prior to comfort. They are ready to bear swollen toes and suffocate their tender feet as long as they feel they are looking good. Men are no different thanks to pointed-toe shoes that have become a rage in formal wear.

One of the most common problems that people approach us with is Hallux Valgus the tendency of the greater toe to grow outward. People also complain of a bony swelling on the inner side of the toe...or bunions. Narrow toe boxes often cause these problems. That applies to women as well. As for the heels, anything beyond two-inches is a problem. Be extremely careful with them. Very high heels can affect the alignment of the spine, says consultant orthopaedic Harshvardhan Hegde of Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon. At times people wearing high heels trip and even end up fracturing their ankle. Some even complain of chronic back pain, says Dr T Shringari, orthopaedic, Paras Hospitals.

These, and other problems like corns, Achillies Tendonitis, curly toes, calluses etc are often caused due to sheer negligence. Most people wouldnt know that initial symptoms of ailments like diabetes, arthritis, nerve and circulatory disorders appear first in the feet. And high heels are not to be blamed always. If you are not wearing the right fit, even the flat, flip-flop kind of shoes can give you trouble. Thin soles can exert a lot of pressure on specific points in the feet and that can be as painful, says Shringari.

Little wonder then that there is an industry thriving on foot problems. Did you know that Dr Scholl invented the first corn pad way back in 1918 Today his merchandise includes massaging gel insoles and shock-absorbing cushions! People with flat feet pick up arch cushions. Scholls other products like corn and callus filer and odour-control foot powder are equally popular, says Vipul Chaturvedi, merchandiser, Shoe Tree.

People are even stepping into exclusive foot and hand spas. Realising the need to pamper tired feet, Ravissant Beaute opened a hand and foot spa. If your toe is twitching for some luxurious treatment try its Cuccio Spa Manicure & Spa Pedicure. The aromatherapy spa treatment combines a soothing soak, exfoliating natural sea salt, refreshing spa elixir, regenerating deep dermal transforming wrap and hydrating body butter. Feeling the twitch already A lot of people are very particular about the hygiene of their feet and at the same time they want to relax. Think about it if you are partying a lot, your feet need a break. And even if you sit in the office all day long, the blood circulation of the feet gets constricted so you feel like setting them free. Dont you asks Sameer Sharma, general manager, Ravissant Beaute. Certainly.

Given that a lot of these foot ailments are related to ones choice of footwear, what kind of shoes must one pick Shoes that you feel really comfortable in. Men can opt for pointed toes but the ones with a broad toe box that tapers well ahead of the toe. Reserve your designer ones for special occasions, Hegde says. Sensible, considering that theres a huge variety in the market and choice a difficult bargain. Chaturvedi too has advice to offer: Its a better idea to use Polyurethane or Thermo Plastic Rubber soles instead of leather soles for daily use.

Apart from the formal and semi formal, pay special attention to what you wear while working out. There are 2,50,000 sweat glands in your feet. They excrete as much as a half-pint of moisture a day. So, you clearly cant afford to wear just about anything. Runners shoes generally work well for gyming, says R S Bawa, owner and fitness expert, Revital gym. But not just any runner shoes. The shoe must have shockers so that the pressure from the feet doesnt lead to painful heels or knees. Adidas Climacool for instance is quite good, he adds. The shoe combines heat and moisture-dissipating materials, ventilation channels and fabrics that allow air to circulate. It is equally imperative to retire your shoes at the right time. If you feel that the cushioning of the shoes has begun to wear off, change them immediately, he says. So now you know how best to stand on your own two feet.