How Well Are Your Feet Aging?
When it comes to anti-aging advice, we’re inundated with info on products and treatments for the face. The hair, chest, neck and hands get some attention too, but by the time we make it south to our feet, there’s not much talk about foot-aging—or what we can do about it.
But I know my feet are not what they were at 25. Or even 35. When I get out of bed in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, my heels feel tight, almost clenched. It takes a few steps before I stop wincing. After more than two hours of standing in heels at a cocktail party, I understand the expression “my dogs are barking” as every step aches, as though I’m tottering on marbles. And I swear my feet are bigger than they used to be. I wore a 7.5 for years and years. Now I am an 8/8.5—and a 9 in running shoes.
I’m guessing some of you have noticed changes as well: Taryn Rose, an orthopedic surgeon and the founder of the Taryn Rose shoe collection, says my complaints are pretty common among women over 40. If you’ve ever given birth to a baby, your feet probably have grown. Post-pregnancy (and beyond), Rose says women’s bodies produce extra Relaxin, a hormone that relaxes the pelvis—and (apparently) the ligaments in our feet. Hence the bump in shoe size.
And those marbles aren’t my imagination either. As we age “you lose the fat pad on the soles of your feet. It’s not fair is it?” says Rose. “As a result, many women become less tolerant of heels.” Side note: I’ve heard about women getting the balls of their feet injected with a filler like Restylane to create a more cushiony base for walking. I’ve not tried this so can’t attest to its efficacy, but it’s important to keep in mind that this is a temporary fix—and not inexpensive. (And gel inserts might work just as well.)
Wearing more supportive, comfortable shoes is another obvious solution, but just writing that makes me feel old. I will not wear Danskin clogs (sorry if you own them, but I just cannot). Rose felt much the same way—which is why she first created her shoe line back in the late 1990s when Carrie Bradshaw was mooning over Manolos. Rose wanted chic shoes she could wear without pain. I had a pair of Taryn Rose shoes myself around 1999 (dark green mules) that were so comfortable I commuted from my Brooklyn apartment to Hearst’s midtown offices in them. (If you’ve ever lived in an urban area and taken a subway to work, you know this is the ultimate test of a shoe’s comfort and durability.)
The Taryn Rose line was recently revamped, and I’m pretty impressed with the fall collection. I’d wear these, these or even these—and I’ve tried these on and they feel like slippers. I am also considering investing in a pair of edgy Golden Goose sneakers. I know they are obscenely pricey—but no more than a pair of Jimmy Choos. A more budget friendly option? The gold metallic Converse I saw my friend Lisa wearing this weekend. My new mantra: Flats don’t have to be frumpy.
Rose also says it’s important that we do more stretching exercises to keep feet from becoming tight (like mine, in the middle of the night). Another way to s-t-r-e-t-c-h? Upgrade to a longer foot massage at your next pedicure—or do more yoga. Rose says balancing poses, in particular, make aging feet stronger. Namaste.