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April 15, 2009 > High Heels Look Good, But Are They Good for Your Feet?

High Heels Look Good, But Are They Good for Your Feet?

Washington Hospital Lunch and Learn Focuses on Foot Care

If you are attracted to names like Manolo, Jimmy C, Enzo and Stevie M, chances are you love wearing high heels. While they look great, they can be harmful to your feet and back.

"I have to admit I do enjoy wearing high heels," said Dr. Bita Mostaghimi, a podiatrist on the Washington Hospital Medical Staff who will provide tips for wearing high heels safely and other foot care advice at an upcoming Lunch and Learn seminar at Washington Hospital. "For many women, shoes are about fashion, not comfort. But there are comfortable shoes that are also fashionable."

"Foot Health Awareness - Putting Your Best Foot Forward," will take place between Noon and 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, at the Washington Women's Center located at 2500 Mowry Avenue, Suite 145 (Washington West) in Fremont. To reserve a space, call (800) 963-7070.

Mostaghimi will explain how the bones, joints, muscles and tendons in the foot work together to support the body and provide mobility and balance.

"I want women to know how their feet work so they can have a better understanding of why they may have foot problems or pain in their feet," she said. "I will also explain how men and women's feet differ, making women more susceptible to foot problems."

According to Mostaghimi, women generally have narrower heels and balls of their feet, putting a lot of pressure on the arch. Men have broader feet, allowing the pressure to be more evenly distributed.


Bunions, Hammertoes, and Corns

She will talk about some of the problems associated with wearing high heels and shoes that are too tight, including foot pain, bunions, hammertoes, corns and neuroma (pinched nerve), as well as treatment options.

Hammertoes are caused by a muscle/tendon imbalance, trauma, or tight shoes that put continual pressure on the toe, eventually forcing it to bend. Corns are a buildup of skin on the toes, usually caused by excessive friction.

"Bunions are genetic, but tight shoes and high heels can make them worse," Mostaghimi said.

The bony protrusions pop up at the base of the big toe and can distort the shape of the foot. If the foot is then placed in a high heel and pushed forward, the pressure on the bone increases and bunion pain grows worse.


Choose Shoes Wisely

Mostaghimi will provide some tips for choosing high heels and other shoes that are more conducive to good foot health.

"Heels that are higher than two inches change the biomechanics of the foot," she said. "They can tighten the Achilles tendon and put pressure on your lower back."

She recommends getting shoes that fit well and provide good arch support. A cushioned insole helps absorb shock and a wider heel provides more stability, she added.

Mostaghimi will also discuss some of the risks associated with getting salon pedicures. She regularly sees people in her practice who have fungal infections and other problems from pedicures.

"Pedicures can cause ingrown toenails, athlete's foot, and other issues if you are not careful," she said. "They often cut the cuticles and dig into the nail to shape it. It looks good, but it's not good for your toenails."

Those who exercise regularly also need to pay close attention to their feet, Mostaghimi said. She will offer advice for choosing good workout shoes and foot and ankle exercises that can help prevent injuries.

To learn more about taking good care of your feet, register for the upcoming Lunch and Learn at (800) 963-7070.

For more information about other Washington Hospital programs and services, visit www.whhs.com.

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