THE BLOG
03/25/2011 03:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Walking Happily Ever After in Spring Shoes

It is now daylight savings time and it is time to "spring" forward.

Ladies, get your feet back in shape so they will look good and feel great when wearing the latest designs in open-toed shoes, sandals and flip flops.

The most common types of foot problems that women complain about when they are walking in open-toed shoes, sandals, or flip flops are toenail problems, arch cramps and pain in the ball of their feet.

Toenail problems known as "the ugly toenail syndrome" or nail fungus is mostly environmental. Nail fungus (onychomycosis) can start to develop in your toenails as just a tiny little yellow spec in the corner of the nail plate. It becomes hidden with the use of nail polish and before you know it the tiny spec has spread to a larger section of the toe nail. The reasons for acquiring fungus nail problems are walking barefoot in warm moist environments when showering at the gym or around a public pool. Chronic athlete's foot which is found in between the toes can also be a reason why toenail fungus can occur. It somehow finds its way to the toenail and starts to affect the nail. Also, it can occur when soaking your feet in foot basins at nail salons before a pedicure.

To minimize exposure to the ugly toenail syndrome, always make sure the basins at foot salons are washed out with sterile solutions before your feet take the plunge. Wearing shower sandals at the gym when walking through the dressing room, shower or sauna areas will also protect your feet from many types of skin and nail problems. Drying in between your toes is equally important but often forgotten.

If fungus has found its way to your toenails, there are topical anti-fungal nail preparations that can be applied to the affected area which may help as well as prescription medications that can be prescribed by your podiatrist or dermatologist.

Style and fashion dictate shoe wear while comfort and support is mostly an afterthought. Walking comfortably in open-toed shoes, sandals, and flip flops that do not provide adequate support can be a challenge. If your feet hurt when wearing the latest in fashion, everything can begin to bother you.

There are two areas of the foot that tend to cause foot pain when wearing shoes. The muscles in the arch and the ball of the foot. Arch pain can occur whether you have high arches or flat feet. Sandals, open-toed shoes and flip flops are not usually designed to support high or low arches. Abnormal pronation causes the arch to collapse when walking. The lack of arch support in those types of shoes can cause the muscles in the plantar aspect of foot that support the arch to fatigue, collapse, get tired, cramp, spasm or become inflamed.

Pain that is found on the balls of the feet is a byproduct of friction-shearing forces and the heads of the metatarsal bones grinding into the floor of the shoe. This sliding process can form thickened tissue underneath the head of the metatarsal bone that sometimes may have a core inside of it called a callus or a nucleated callus. Professionally having the callus tissue removed can be performed by a podiatrist.

There is also another type of pain that can be found underneath the metatarsal heads of the foot. The pain is localized to the metatarsal heads and can be described as sharp or burning. It is triggered when the ball of the foot grinds into the floor of the shoe or when walking barefoot on hard floor surfaces. It is called metatarsalgia or metatarsal head bursitis. The bone tissue called the periostuim which covers the bone or the bursa, which is present underneath the heads of the metatarsal bones becomes inflamed. It is most commonly found underneath the heads of the second through fourth metatarsal bones.

Foot solutions to these problems are simply to use an orthotic device to support the arch, which will redistribute the weight more evenly across the medial longitudinal and transverse arch. In sandals, open-toed shoes and flip flops, supporting the arch can be challenging. In closed shoes, making a custom-made orthotic or purchasing an over-the-counter arch support is fairly easy to do.

For open shoes there is now a product that will help solve that problem. Instant Arches® for Sandals and Flip Flops manufactured by Foot Products Enterprises Inc. is a new product that has been developed to provide arch support for those types of shoes. Its unique patented design will fit all sandal and flip flop styles. One size fits all, just remove the adhesive backing and place it into the arch area of the sandal or flip flops.

If the arch problems continue to persist seek medical attention. Podiatrists and orthopedists are the medical professionals that treat those types of foot problems. Injection therapy, ice message, anti-inflammatory medication and electrical current therapy are the other medical treatment options available.

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