Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Note:  I realize that I should have written this post before I wrote about my running aches and pains.  Sometimes less is more and sometimes less is just confusing.  So, here is a bit of background that might explain some of my hesitancy about adding running to my exercise routine.

Just over seven years ago a podiatrist told me my cute shoe days were over.  Okay, that is not actually what he said.  But that’s what I heard.  My foot hurt and it turned out that step aerobics three times a week had taken its toll.  I was officially diagnosed with neuroma, which basically meant I had damaged the nerves on the ball of my foot, thanks to high impact exercise.

So I went to a specialty shoe store where the salesperson watched me walk and listened to my foot woes before putting me into a pair of very expensive shoes, with no regard to what they looked like.  This was a novel approach to shoe shopping that I was not sure I liked.  The arches were high; the style was almost non-existent.  But I quickly learned that wearing the right shoes made a huge difference.  So with the click of my now-banned ruby red slippers in the blink of an eye, my shoe wardrobe completely changed.

As did my exercise routine.  No more step aerobics.  No more walking for fitness (until things improved).  No jumping jacks:)  My 40th birthday was right around the corner so I splurged on an elliptical machine and began what I now refer to as my low-impact years.  And I discovered cycling class as a great non-impact cardio alternative.

And over time, my foot improved considerably.  Occasionally I would try on cute shoes, non-supportive cute shoes.  Shoes that did not break the bank or come from Europe.  Shoes with style.  But just a short walk around the store would get my feet aching in all sorts of places, no longer limited to where I had felt the aches and pains from the past.  I suspect a lot has to do with the affect of age on my arches.  One more thing to dislike about growing older.

Fortunately, I found that taking good care of my feet by wearing supportive shoes meant I could actually add back some amount of impact exercise.  Not step aerobics.  (Except for one fabulous class at the spa this past June; first time in seven years and I loved every minute.)  But I could take a walk without lasting discomfort even though I feel my feet in odd ways with each stride.  And so I thought that maybe I could, seven years post-diagnosis, add a bit of jogging to the mix.  Maybe.

But maybe not.  Because I can (almost) happily live without cute shoes and without step aerobics if it also means living without foot pain.  Sometimes I walk longingly through a shoe store and think how much better my summer dresses would look with a little matching sandal.  And when I pack for vacation I wish I had a pair of decent looking shoes that could hold up to days of sightseeing instead of me having to pack and wear my clunky running shoes (with their supportive inserts).

But since I would hate to go back to the days when my feet hurt all the time and my toes tingled, I am living a life that is no longer  footloose and fancy free.  But knock on wooden heels, things could be worse.  And I have to admit that while the cost is going up, at least the styles of the supportive footwear are slowly improving.  Maybe my cute shoe days will eventually return:)



Filed under aging, body and/or body image, exercise, history (my past)

66 responses to “Walk a Mile in My Shoes

  1. Karen, welcome to true adulthood — when one has learned to put realism above wanton desire. I haven’t worn heels in 20 years, and does my body (especially feet) love me for it!

    • Karen

      Ah – I am an adult now:) A couple of years ago I started to think about going back to work and one of my first thoughts was that I sooo could not put heels on again! Or have a job where I stood for hours. I did both decades ago.

      BTW – wearing high heels is one of the leading causes of neuroma ladies!!

  2. Oh Girl…you are singing my blues! SHOES! Mine was plantar fascitis – Birks are my best friend now…It was a sad, sad day when I gave away all my cutest, adorable heels….But YES! comfort is so very important.

    • Karen

      Oh my husband had that too so I am quite familiar with it. My podiatrist recommended Birks but I never found them comfortable enough to buy. But my insoles are by them.

  3. Oh how I can relate to wanting to wear cute shoes!!! With flatter than pancake feet & wider than a shoe box & bunions too, my days of cute shoes & even cute workout shoes are way long gone a long time ago! I have had bad feet for all my life & the older I get, the worse they get! I did not think they could get flatter than flat as a pancake, but they seem to have managed that along with wider due to that & bunions getting worse every year.

    I buy shoes strictly for fit & can’t take looks into play, like you! I so long to be able to wear cute shoes! There is a new bunion procedure but can’t afford it & it supposedly is great & less down time & long lasting.

    I still am able to run & do my stuff but the older I get, the more I feel it & yes, I wear inserts specifically for my feet & still feel it.

    I feel your pain Karen! 😉

    • Karen

      I remember telling the podiatrist – “Well at least I don’t have bunions” and he said “Yes, you do.” Sigh. I just wish the “good” shoes were not so darn expensive!!

  4. Forgive me, I know women dress for women, and not for men, but “cute shoes” are a male concept and just a hair shy of genital piercing. I am CONSTANTLY amazed at what women are willing to but on their feet — just shy of Chinese foot biding.

    I know you will probably edit this comment out Karen, and I am sorry for that, but in the event that you do not, I hope any woman reading this will reconsider what she puts on her feet and why.

    Yes James Brown, it’s man’s world, and how often do we see men wearing cruel shoes….? Rhetorical.

  5. It’s amazing what my feet are willing to put up with (for now!) It’s also amazing the pain I’m willing to put up with to wear the shoes that I wear! (for now, also!) 🙂

  6. I have never been a big fan of shoes, so maybe that’s a good thing! My daughter though? – she says if she can get her feet into the shoe – it fits. It’s all about looks for her.

    Poor you!

    • Karen

      I guess I am glad that I only have sons! My oldest has just a few pairs of shoes: running shoes with insoles he wears daily, hiking boots he wears around the snowy campus, dress shoes he rarely wears at all. My teen is a bit more fashion conscious and has a few more. He’d buy more if we’d pay for it! And a bit too much emphasis by him on looks over comfort.

  7. Ewa

    After years of wearing high heel shoes our achilles tendon shortens. Supportive shoes worn for a long time will atrophy many muscles in a foot. I strongly believe that being barefoot whenever possible and appropriate will help remedy those problems. There will be aches and pains in the beginning. Imagine asking someone who had his arm in a cast for years to play tennis. It ain’t gonna happen without some training.
    And yes, I will put high heel shoes on ever so often on a special occasion.

    • Karen

      I love to be barefoot! Fortunately it does not aggravate anything for me that I know of. I also own a pair or two of heels for those times you just have to have them with the dress. But ouch.

  8. Oh Girl…
    You absolutely crack me up. We are WAY to much alike. I, too, have to stay away from cute heels and flats. I have Achilles tendinitis in one tendon and the new formation of a bunion on my right big toe 😦 So…no more pointy toe heels for me :/ I am still trying to wear flats… 🙂

  9. sunnydaze

    This puts me in mind of that commercial with senior citizens walking around with those shoes with springs in the heel? Rem. those horrid things from 2-3 years ago?

  10. Ah yes. Shoes. The correct shoes make a HUGE difference. I had flat feet as a kid and they gave me special inserts to form arches in my feet. So I have arches now, but I can’t wear most “girly” shoes. Haha. Can’t say I miss them though, they seem like such a tripping hazard!

    • Karen

      I have never heard of that. Just today my mom was asking if I remember wearing shoes with a brace-like bar between them to bed when I was a kid. I don’t.

  11. oh no, I was practically crying during this post!! How awful it would be to be banned from the cute shoe aisle.

    Have you tried jogging since your post about running or talked to the doctors about it?

    • Karen

      I actually got on to try one day but quit. I have been fighting a cold and I just could not hack it. It sounds like an excuse, but I think this is legitimate:)

  12. Yep I could have wrote this for my blog. I hate Sunday dress cause after I get all purttied up I put on my ortho inserted sandals. Until I have my foot surgery this is it. I wear them EVERYWHERE! Even in the swimming pool. I totally get this post and I made cut and copy some of it for my post when I have a nice dress up photo with my stupid shoes!

  13. The last 3 months I have had to add inserts to my walking shoes or the balls of my feet scream in protest. I have never worn heels, just put too much weight on the ball vs my heels when walking.

  14. I had to wear corrective shoes as a kid and have always been a bit careful of my footwear. But I am a shoe lover! I gave up the 3 inch heels a long time ago and never wore anything much higher. I have developed arthritis in the top of my foot and had to give up all but the tiniest of heels. So I am trying to adjust to flats (with inserts)for all occasions.

    I do agree that the “good” shoes are getting better looking.

  15. Ah, my sister in foot woes! I had to have my pinkie toe bones shaved (though that’s not what the podiatrist called it) a couple of years ago, so I do understand the agony of foot pain.

    And I agree, choosing shoes for foot health vs. cute factor isn’t much fun. But it’s more fun than excruciating foot pain, I suppose. 🙂

    • Karen

      OUCH! That does not sound fun at all. I wonder if I would have quit step aerobics if someone warned me it might be bad for my feet.

  16. I gave up all those shoes a while ago and my feet thank me daily. I have a bone spur and tendonitis in my left foot and since then I’ve bought all my shoes at Roadrunner sports. They have great shoes and they look like normal tennis shoes as well. Never had any pain since.

    I still find cute shoes but it’s usually the shoes with the huge wedges and I only wear them on special ocassions and I usually put extra padding on them for my foot. Because I’m not forcing my foot to wear shoes like the ones that come from Aldo- they don’t really hurt.

    Usually “cute” shoes I buy are like these:


    Since it’s not too high of a heel I can last a few hours in them 🙂

  17. It comes with the territory–silver hairs, slowed metabolism, wrinkles and an increasing inability to wear anything footwear approaching “cute.” My favorite option is bare feet. My running shoes (1 size larger to allow for my long middle toe and avoid purple toenails), open toe sandals, crocs, and one low pair of sensible heels are the only shoes that are at all tolerable for more than 5 minutes of walking. But yesterday I wore my sensible heels to a funeral and I have two blisters today. Hmmm.

    • Karen

      I have wondered about crocs for me. They have no arch support but someone told me they will conform to fit my feet. Hmm. And, my second toe seems to be growing! What’s with that?

  18. This is my third attempt to leave a comment. Every time I hit the back arrow it goes to the former page and erases everything I’ve written. Each one becomes shorter 😦

    Try Zumba.

    Use a running shoe liner but cut a hole the size of a quarter under the neroma location.

    Alcohol injections also work.

    Good luck!

    • Karen

      Oh no! How frustrating. Sorry that happened. I often give up after trying to comment on blogger blogs when I lose everything.

      My current insoles have a metatarsal support so are pretty good. But I have not found any that fit well in “street shoes.” That is what I would love to improve on.

  19. Karen, I’m starting to think that we were twins separated at birth. I’ve been confined to mostly sneakers with in dealing with the same neuroma problem in both feet. A have a pair of 4 inch cole haan pumps that sit sadly in the corner of my closet, along with all of the other great footwear I’ve taken for granted before it was stripped away earlier this year. But health must come first, as you have so wisely realized. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in pinning for cute shoe options that accomodate my orthodics. Thanks!

    • Karen

      I wear Think! shoes for almost all my non-workout footwear. Very expensive, but very supportive with metatarsal arch support too. Made by the same people who make Finn shoes which I find tooooo aggressive in the arch for me. Check them out. The footbed that works for me is Mizzi. They have others that are not good for neuroma.

  20. Oh I feel for you, my heels bring me joy. Granted my runners get more airplay these days but that’s alright. In packing up to move, I now realize how many I have and my heart breaks for you. It’s true the supportive ones are looking better everyday. You might just be in luck.

    • Karen

      And then what kills me is the rare times I have to put on a dressy dress with heals and I have to resort to the ones I already own because I can’t justify buying a cute new pair that never gets worn. Of course I can’t remember the last time I wore any!

  21. Even in Tucson we have several “walking shoe” stores that carry amazingly dressy supportive shoes. Before our trip to NYC and the Met, I bought a pair from a European designer (of course) with peek-a-boo toe and wild design on the wedge heels. Taking care of your feet no longer means you have to dress like a nun!

    • Karen

      Before almost every trip I search and search. My dilemma is that the darn shoes cost so darn much that I hate to buy them and find they don’t work once I walk any distance. Sigh. So I tend to stick to the ones I know are pretty good for me. Maybe when I am back in your town I will have to hit up your store!

  22. I don’t care how unstylish or unsexy they are, I absolutely LIVE in my MBT shoes. I love being able to rock in them while standing still and feeling different muscles in my legs work as I shift my weight in them. I’m also lucky that I can wear jeans to work, because that’s the only thing these shoes even remotely look good with!
    I used to get bad knee and hip pains (thanks, old dance injuries!) when I walked for more than 15 minutes or so. 2 years ago, I spent about 10 hours walking around NYC and only felt a little tenderness right near the end. I don’t know what they can do for foot pain, but they’re amazing for any impact-related joint pains!

    • Karen

      My husband got a pair once. And never wears them. Not sure why. I tried them on and was just deterred by the cost. Now they have some that are not quite as bad looking and all the other brands that supposedly do similar stuff. I wonder if I should give that a try too. If only shoes came with a money-back guarantee!

      • My mom tried mine and hated them. You have to wear them for about 3-4 days before you really get used to them. (Since they have a curved sole, you’re always rocking and readjusting your weight distribution, etc.) I’ve got both my pairs from Ebay for around $70-80 USD each, plus shipping. Not as easy as quick as getting them from a store, but so worth it! Try them on at a shop and figure out what size you need, then shop around on Ebay until you can find one in your size that you like. Far less financial commitment for something you may not love. (But probably will if you give them a chance)

  23. I love shoes — when I was 40 pounds overweight — it was my go to thing. I wouldn’t buy clothes since I didn’t want to commit to my size — but I did buy shoes. I have decided I will wear all styles until I can’t.

    • Karen

      For many of us, shoes are almost a right of passage. I can remember my first pair that had any heel to them. How I begged my mother to let me get them. Creamsicle sandals.

  24. I have foot problems too. Some of them will go away as I lose weight. Others I think I’ll have for life. I’ve been thinking about buying the MBT or Sketchers speciality shoes. I’ll look more into once Fall is here. It’s too hot to walk.

  25. AFG

    Thanks for sharing your story on this! I’ve tried many times to rock a pair of heels and it just doesn’t happen for me… Plus the fact ihave monstrous size 11 feet… You can never find anything cute in that size. Greer!

    • Karen

      I bet that is indeed hard:( My husband says our feet and our nose grow our whole lives. I hope not; both of mine are big enough already.

  26. Karen, I can really relate to this post! Let me count the reasons why I haven’t wore real heels for years! Is it my worn out knees? Is it my numb and tingling left foot? I wouldn’t say I wear anything really corky looking, but when I put my feet in a pair of Nurtures, Borns, Or Clarksville, they are grateful!

  27. Looks like a lot of us can relate to this post. I have bad feet too! Lucky for me I can still wear some cute shoes when I want to.

    For every day I have several pairs of comfort shoes. I always take a pair to switch into after church and when I go shopping!

    There are worse things we could have so I hate to complain about it!

  28. Living without cute shoes?!? You are a far braver woman than I.

  29. Genie@dietof51

    Few things are worse than feet that are screaming in agony. I don’t have to worry about my arches, I have ugly flat feet. I can’t wear certain types of shoes because they look so weird on my feet.

    • Karen

      The funny thing is that there is one style of sandal that I have in several colors and I think it is quite ugly but I have gotten several compliments on it. Go figure.

  30. One of the reasons I cycle too (thanks for the comment on my blog!) is because of the low impact. I want to shed some more weight before I seriously start walking and or jogging. I would like to save my knees.

    I have always been a sensible show kind of gal. Dansko’s are pretty cute and comfy: at least I think so….

    • Karen

      I have tried them on in the store. I think they might work because of the whole “rocker” aspect. Never bought a pair yet and committed. Maybe this fall I will get some clogs to try.

  31. I started walking/hiking in my Crocs and they are the most comfortable thing ever. I just wish I could jog in them too. I have really, really wide feet so never have been able to wear cute shoes. I still give all my (adult) girls (including my dil’s) a back-to-school shoe allowance every year so I do the cute shoes vicariously. 🙂

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