If you've followed my blog for a while, you probably know I'm a Houston podiatrist. But did you also know I love to find (and share) wacky internet gems? If you didn't, get ready. Because today's blog will introduce you to some of my greatest internet discoverys.

So bear with me for a minute, as I walk you through beer, medieval times and a five-figure shoe loss. By the end, I promise, it will all come together.


Bunions in the Middle Ages 

Wearing high heels can cause foot pain and send you to see a Houston podiatrist

Bunions are bumps that form at the base of your great toe. (Sometimes, they form on your baby toe. And then they're called bunionettes or tailor's bunions.)

Wherever it forms, a bunion is an enlargement of the head of your metatarsal bone. When that bone gets bigger, your soft tissue may also swell (a bursa.)

As your bone grows, the bump increases in size. And that pushes your big toe in towards your other ones. Which could lead to crossed toes or hammer toes.

Now, today's lifestyle can increase your risk for bunions. After all, we know high heels put pressure on your feet. And that can contribute to your bone enlargement. But it's actually not a new problem. Because, as I've just discovered in my internet scholarship, it was a big issue in the middle ages. 

Apparently, back in the 14th century, men were the worst bunion sufferers. At that time, fashion trends shoved their feet into pointy toed shoes. And this article claimed that their foot wear contributed to an outbreak of bunions.

On its own, I found that to be a pretty interesting fact. But, as I kept falling down the internet rabbit hole, the controversy thickened. Soon, I stumbled on a counter claim. And it suggested the medieveal bunion craze had more to do with the monks drinking habits. Because too much beer ups your gout risk. And gout can increase your odds of getting bunions, too.

Whatever side of the debate you fall on, bunions were more of a man's problem. But, today, women are more likely to develop these big toe bumps. Which brings us to the next stage of my crazy internet blog.

Dumping Shoes for Happier Feet

Here's another discovery from my free-scouring-the-internet time. I came across a blog on HelloGiggles posted by a woman who was mourning the loss of $10,000 worth of shoes. Yes, that’s right, $10,000.

Now, if you ask me, that’s a kind of crazy amount of money to have spent on a shoe collection in the first place. But I bet a lot of you out there reading this post have spent that much as you’ve built yours over the years. And even if you don’t think it’s crazy to spend that much on your shoes, I’m guessing you’d never get rid of the collection. Especially after you spent a small fortune building. 

So why did this blogger get rid of her designer shoes? (Including a never-worn $850 pair of Vivienne Westwood boots?!?!) Because they hurt her feet! Apparently, Freer was developing a bunion beneath her big toe. Heck, she was eben getting that less-common tailor’s bunion we mentioned earlier. Right beneath her baby toe.

The blogger already knows that some people are genetically pre-disposed to developing bunions. (So listen up: if your mom or grandma has bunions, you likely will too!)

But she also notes that most of the shoes she gave away were actually altering the shape of her feet. And they were hurting her feet and making her bunions worse.

Luckily, she made a smart move. She got rid of all the shoes she owned with narrow toe boxes. (They cramped her feet and limited her foot flexibility.) And she did it before her bunions got so bad that she couldn't fit into the pointy-toed shoes she kept for special occasions. When, she believes, they’ll truly be required.

In the meantime, she ordered a few pairs of shoes with wider toe-boxes. And she decided to leave the crazy pointy-toed heels for rare occasions.

Want to know the best part? It turns out she’s not alone. More and more women are walking away from uncomfortable high heels, and I’m so here for that.

 

Houston podiatrist recommends comfortable shoes to men and women
 

Comfy Shoes are Having a Moment

I’m not just whistling Dixie when I say more women recognize the problems associated with high heels. In fact, analytics firm Edited reports that sales of high-heeled shoes are down.

 According to Kate Smith, “We’re all living increasingly active lives, with more travel and increased casualization across almost all social occasions.” And she should know, as Edited's retail analysis and insights director, in charge of comparing online inventory and sales data.  “The health and wellness lifestyle shift has encouraged more technical developments in footwear, as companies innovate to better suit the consumer shifts. Things like Nike’s ‘Flyknit’ and ‘energy return’ soles not only teach consumers to expect more from their footwear, but make it cool, too.”

Happily, high heel seem to be on the way out. And sneakers are taking over! In fact, according to Edited, retailers and brands stocked 46.8% more athletic sneakers in 2017 versus the year prior. And they experienced 54% greater sellouts year over year.

High heels, by contrast, didn’t match up: sellouts dropped 13.4%, despite retailers increasing their inventory levels by 28 percent.

Smith’s not surprised. She explains, “Over the years, women’s footwear has steadily shifted away from necessitating high heels in the office, to a greater acceptance of flats—even sneakers—at work.”

I’m also not surprised…even if I can’t help but wonder how it’s taken us so long to reach this point. High heels hurt women’s feet. They make feet more susceptible to bunions. They throw off your balance and just cause problems. (Even if they look good while doing that, as my wife, the avid shoe collector, continues to insist.)

So, while I know that a downward shopping trend doesn’t mean the end of high heels altogether, I’m still super happy to see that more and more women are prioritizing foot health over fashion! And I'm also hoping you'll learn from my blogger, and ancient monks, and listen to your body. If something hurts, don't stick with it until your body changes. Instead, give me a call right away and come in for an immediate appointment.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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