Killer Shoes, Part Four

I just spent four days in an intense Pilates course for special populations. I came home and told my dear little Mama that I must have taken over 60 pp of notes in the class. To that she frankly responded, I thought you knew EVERYTHING about Pilates. Uh, NOT in this life time, Mom.

The course was margin-2-margin with anatomy, biomechanics, and medical material. My brain was definitely fogged.

We spent time discussing issues with the feet. And how to rehab with Pilates. Quite interesting.

There were, as always, dancers in the group. Talking about issues with feet. They are without question in that category. ouch. One of them said when her ballet class of little girls were complaining about the discomfort, she reminded them, It's going to hurt. She wasn't being unkind. It's just a fact. If you are going to be a dancer, your body is going to feel it. And for sure, your feet.

Yet, it has always been seen as a sign of beauty and grace. It? The body, yes, but even more, the ballerina's foot.

Think about how it is shaped. How it is bound. How it moves. How it is envied. How it is admired.

With this as my backdrop, I couldn't help but think about the previous article on Chinese foot binding. And my question to you. Are we so different in the 21st century?

Let's start with the ballerina. Please know, I am certainly not being critical of these amazing artists. But I can't say I believe it's healthy for the body, in the long run. Our toes were not made to bear our full weight and walked on much less danced on. ouchy ouch. No more than the heels were made to be walked on as did Chinese women. Both are extremes. One difference, thankfully, ballerinas do walk like the rest of us when not showcasing. So their poor digits are getting some relief. But is it enough? And what is the recovery time?

But then who are we to be critical of their desire or need to kill their feet to perform? Look at us, or most of us. We, too, have our own faulty cravings. We dance around in 10 inch stilettos, which comes close to walking on our toes. OK, OK, so 10 inches is a bit of an exaggeration. I've made my point.

Then if that isn't good enough, we go the other direction with faulty thongs. A perfect shoe for disaster. Just ask yours truly. Did I not take a debilitating fall while wearing cute little thongs while playing soccer on the soccer field?

Now, folks, that takes a huge amount of I.Q. I think there is a word for it: Air head. For those of you who don't know, the fall landed me in more ways than one. First, on the ground. While I made the goal, I didn't win the next game. You see, I injured my rotator cuff. A big no-no. And a probable full thickness tear according to the MRI. (More on that and how Pilates helped me another time.)

Heels more than 2 inches cause us to bear our weight on the balls of our feet. I read in a fashion magazine recently that high heels helped your posture; I had to laugh. What planet did they come from? Definitely one with a different anatomy. Think of it, heels throw our bodies forward. And our spine takes the beating, along with our legs. It leads to knee and back injury. Shortens our calves. Gives us aching, hurting, burning feet and toes. Good times!

Then there is the whole issue of balance. How many times have I seen people fall on their faces? Just recently, the famous Angelina Jolie en route to an event, stumbled around on her famous stilettos when gum got stuck on the bottom. And if that wasn't enough, then she ripped her hip-melted leathers right down her cute little backside. Thankfully, Brad was there to put his hand over her derriere.

Thongs/Flip-Flops are another matter. Some would think they would be better, right? Wrong. Usually, thongs have no arch support or any other proper support. The open shoe sets us up for cuts, scratches, and broken nails, which can all lead to a visit to the doctor or hospital. Again, the posture is affected. Have you noticed how you grip the thong when you walk? Or how your foot may flatten out? These simple shifts in our foot structure can inhibit proper balance and posture.

Then one of the latest crazes are the pointed, wickedly pointed toed shoes. You know the kind. You have them in your closet. And your husband or boyfriend has been deathly afraid of you since you brought them home. Every time I see them, I think of The Wizard of Oz. No, not the beautiful red slippers, but the wicked witch's shoes sticking out from under Dorothy's house. She's melting, melting.

Remember how delicate our feet are, yet what an amazingly complex system they are. Review Part 2 in the series for a simple overview of the foot's anatomy. Or do your own research.

Is it really worth it to make a fashion statement?

NEXT: Beyond shoe art, what are the latest crazes with foot cut and pasting?

Copyright © 2008 by Ellen M. Samples. All rights reserved.