Directors Martin Scorsese and Baz Luhrmann have often complained that they find it impossible to find actors capable of natural expression. They blame it on Botox, a paralysing neurotoxin that immobilise muscles, and therefore, makes the face appear wrinkle-free. But now that every friendly neighbourhood auntyji is mysteriously looking younger — and more expressionless — with age, people in search of plastic perfection are taking to their heels, literally.
The focus now has shifted to other tell-tale ageing parts of the body, such as the neck, hands and feet. A New Delhi-based cosmetic surgeon is even offering to plump out the soles of the well-heeled with collagen fillers to make it possible for women to survive stilettos-induced pain at the end of a long day.
He claims that added cushioning will comfort painful soles, but overlooks to tell you that fillers, like botox, are absorbed by the body — more so if they bear the weight of the body at the base of the foot — and women may need re-injection at least three times year. The cost of each treatment — about 2 ml per feet — would be between Rs 60,000 and Rs 80,000, which is around Rs 2 lakh a year.
Think of all the gorgeous pairs of shoes — or that one exclusive pair — you can buy with that money. That, or whatever else you spend on would last a lot longer than collagen fillers in your soles.
Feet prefer comfort over collagen so always go for comfortable footwear. By comfortable I don’t mean “sensible” ones or flip-flops but shoes – heeled or flat — that support your feet and allow full motion to the foot and ankle. They should decrease stress on the knees, hips and spine by keeping them in as natural a position as possible.
Shoe types classified bad are heels over 3 inches, pumps, sandals and flipflops, while hard- or rubber-soled shoes and work boots rank average. Athletic and casual sneakers make it to the good category.
Apart from injury and disease, bad footwear is the most common cause of pain in the knees, ankles and feet, with some studies linking footwear to osteoarthritis of the knee.
Two years ago, I was surprised to discover that British chiropodists and podiatrists called flat shoes such as flip-flops and thongs the worst possible footwear because these were flat, soft and squishy, and offered no support and no protection to the feet. They make feet roll inward, stretching ligaments and tendons, which leads to pain and bunions (enlarged bone at the base of the big toe).
High heels wreck the stabilising mechanisms of the foot by lifting it out of its natural position and pushing the body’s centre of gravity forward, increasing the pressure on the knees and feet. High-heeled shoes also force the calf muscles to contract to adjust to the angle of the heel, tightening them time.
In a finding that may comfort Nicolas Sarkozy, a study of 3,300 men and women in the US reported that men did not get foot-pain associated with footwear, irrespective of the type or height of shoes worn. Two in three women, however, had foot pain linked to use of heels and other types of bad footwear, wrote researchers in Arthritis Care & Research.
Despite such gender biases, few women can resist heels. And why should they? As long as they are comfortable, heels are fine if worn for short periods. Just ensure you buy pairs that mimic the natural shape of the feet while offering support in the arch and a flexible sole underneath the toes.
The easiest way to choose a shoe (or slipper) is to try it on. If it fits, wear it. And if it causes any kind of pain, trash it. It makes sense to hurt your wallet once in a while than your feet every day.