Man working on a laptop at beach

Keeping Your Feet Comfy At Work

The results are in.  According to a study done by scientists at the Universite de Bretagne-Sud, men respond much more willingly to women in high heels. Women who dropped their gloves on the street were 50% more likely to have a  man deliver it back to her if she was wearing heels. A man is  twice as likely to answer questions posed to him on the street if the asker is in heels.  Women in heels are picked up at bars twice as quickly, their flat- wearing companions.  Does this extend to the workplace?  Are men more likely to respond to demands made by women in the workplace if the woman is in heels?  Many women feel empowered by high heels and find them to be a very useful weapon in the male dominated workplace.  Others consider them a source of discomfort or as reinforcement of stereotypes in which women are viewed as sex objects.  Well, whether vehemently opposed or willing to use any means necessary, we can all agree that heels are not the most comfortable option for feet at work.  So let’s explore some ways we can keep our feet more comfortable, in heels or not.

The Workplace
You have a right to comfort in your place of employment!

  •  The workplace should provide the worker with the option of sitting or standing while working.  If the work cannot be done sitting, a seat should be  made available for breaks.
  •  Foot rails should be provided to allow the employee to shift weight from one leg to the other.
  •  The workspace should provide ample room for the worker to change body positions and adjustable work surfaces should be provided to accommodate people of all heights.

Buying Comfy Footwear
When buying shoes, try and look for the following:

  • The shoes’ inner side should form a straight line beginning at the heel and ending at the big toe.
  • The shoe should not slip off your heel. (Use heel grips if this happens)
  • Your toes should be able to move freely.
  • The shoe should have a wide based, low heel.
  • Buy shoes in the afternoon when feet are at their most swollen.
  • Don’t expect shoes will stretch.  (This is the lie of attractive footwear)

Helpful Tips
If you do find yourself unable to stay away from those lethal heels, here are some tips that might be help keep you elevated and comfy at the same time.

  •  Use medical tape to bind your third toe and fourth toe together. This will help to relieve pressure on the ball of your feet.
  • Apply clear gel deodorant to prevent blisters.  Put it on the parts of the shoes that are tightest to stop the friction.
  •  Have the heels shortened.  Don’t try this at home, but a professional can take up to 1″ off the heels without altering the look noticeably.
  • Put moleskin on tight straps.
  • Widen the toes of your shoes. Fill a plastic baggy with water and insert them in the toes of your shoes.  Place them in a freezer and voila!

Of course, you don’t need heels to perform well in the workplace, but if you find the added height brings the extra confidence you need, you don’t have to suffer with discomfort.  With some savvy and some know how, you can solve all your orthopedic woes.

Woman buying sandals in a shoe store

Flat Sandals And Foot Health

Marilyn Monroe once famously said, “Give the girl the right shoe and she can conquer the world.” I hardly think this is disputable. From time immortal, women have had seemingly unnatural relationships with their shoes. But most of the time, when we speak of these obsessions, high heels come to mind. Unfortunately, heels have their limitations. They make our legs look fabulous, but by the end of the day, the agonized looks on our faces might scare away all comers no matter how fab our gams look. Let’s face it! We need our flats. Six-inch stilettos may be just the thing in the nightclub, but not so much for the supermarket (although I have never seen Beyonce at Ralph’s.) But, that’s okay. There are some really cute and cheap flats right? Ballet flats, flip-flops, jelly shoes and sandals are really fashionable for that sexy comfortable Sunday afternoon look. In fact, even Victoria Beckham, who once said,”I can’t concentrate in heels”, was spotted wearing brogues at the start of the summer. So, it’s a win-win right? Comfort and fashion. Wrong!

According to Dr. Nichola Dunne, director of Douglas Orthotics, “People think that they are doing the right thing by wearing flats, but they don’t realize how much damage they can cause.” Although they may be better for our balance, flats have no arch support, fastening straps or shock absorbing materials. They can cause friction to the heel , Achilles tendon, and toes that can lead to blisters and callouses, and, commonly cause flat feet. In addition, the damage may not stop may not stop at the ankle Back, hip and knee pain are often attributed to wearing flats.

Plantar Fascitis
You may have heard about this on late night infomercials. Plantar fascitis is the swelling of the tissue that runs between the heel and the foot. It can be caused by weight gain or, you guessed it, unsupportive footwear. The HSE estimates that this condition affects one-tenth of the population. Says Dunne,”Each September, every second person who comes into the clinic has plantar fascists after spending the summer in sandals or flip flops.” (Are you regretting all those sandals sitting in your closet waiting to be worn?)

What Can You Do?
Buy your shoes in the afternoon. Your feet may be a little swollen from daily activity and will give you a more accurate expectation of how your shoes will fit on a daily basis. Stretch calf muscles daily to avoid tendonitis and try rolling a ball under your foot to relieve pain. And as for choosing our shoes, is there any middle ground? Should we ship out all our sandals to the Salvation Army, or is that too cruel? Chris McCarthy ,manager of Foot Solutions says, ” Not all flats are bad. A good shoe should have a cushioned base and be shaped to support the arches….The heel counter…behind your heels , needs to be solid and not tilt in or out. Proper shoes will support the heel bone to keep the foot flat and prevent pain.” And NO FLIP FLOPS!! According to the experts, these are an orthopedic disaster. They can cause pain, permanent damage to your toes, screw up your posture, slow you down, expose your feet to infection and could be made of toxic materials. In other words, if you are looking forward to walking comfortably for the rest of your life, avoid these at all costs.

So go forth, choose wisely and have fun conquering the world!