Toot, toot, tootsie, hello!
Special to The Union
Today, class, we will consider body parts that nobody talks about, the ones you may be a bit ashamed of, the parts you keep covered most of the time. I’m talking about feet.
As tires are to a car, so feet are to a body. Without good tires, even the best car isn’t going anywhere. Without good feet, even the best body will have trouble getting around. If you need to walk – who doesn’t? – you need tootsies that work and don’t hurt.
Babies’ feet are so cute, we kiss them. Our moms used to plant loving little kisses on ours. But, over time, feet may not only become unkissable, but worn out, misaligned and just plain painful to use. We end up with feet only a fetishist could love.
Well, blame it on shoes that aren’t the right size. (Feet can change over time and should be measured once a year.) Or blame it on high heels, pointy-toed shoes, bad genes or aging (which wears out the protective pads at the bottom of the feet).
You can even blame the problems on over-zealous shoe salesmen who assure you with the look of an angel that the shoes pinching in the store will stretch out when you get home. That is some stretch – the classic shoe store lie that women may believe if the shoes are “cute”.
And you can’t just blame us women for being a little silly about shoe choices. Men who go gaga over high heels encourage women to end up with shortened leg ligaments and misshapen feet. (It’s our version of Chinese foot-binding and why Cranky Pants should give it up about the allure of stilettos. I wouldn’t wear them for Robert Redford.)
Get your feet re-measured. (Duh.) Buy shoes that are in the actual shape of your footprint, that feel good in the store. Buy nothing that’s a maybe. Wear new shoes around the house for a while and if they don’t fit, bring them back and try again.
There are brands favored for comfort: Easy Spirit, Hush Puppies, Teva, Mephisto (especially the All-Rounders), Merrell, SAS, Birkenstock and on the sport shoe front, New Balance and Brooks. The current style craze is for shoes that rock – literally. Their backs don’t quite hit the floor. Me, I hate the rocker shoes – like walking through an earthquake. On the other hand, CP loves them. Different strokes for different feet, but if you want the rockers, bring money.
Now, most comfort shoes can be made even more comfortable with socks that are padded. Thorlo socks started the padded trend and was so successful that other manufacturers came on board. You can always find the basic padded sport sock, but now padded socks come in black dressier versions. (Thorlo socks are worth every penny and last a long time – if your mate doesn’t make off with them.)
A visit to the foot care section of the drug store may help with your walking comfort level. Today, there are all kinds of foot gizmos designed to provide relief – from extra padding for the soles to protection for corns and bunions, those lovely bumps that arrive when your feet decide to grow sideways.
As always, if home remedies and well-selected shoes don’t help, get thee to a professional. No, not a pedestrian. The word is podiatrist. A good podiatrist can fit you with special orthotics and help with the problems of misbehaving feet. They may have products that drugstores don’t carry and though they will not go all kissy-kissy over your tootsies the way your mom did, they may keep you on the road.
And that’s the point – keep on keeping on – passing through the valley of corns and hammertoes and forward into life on the open road.
Mel Walsh is a gerontologist, author and columnist. Her book, Hot Granny, is available at The Book Seller in Grass Valley. Visit Mel at http://www.melwalsh.com.
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