Even we YOU Docs (who think white lab coats are the height of fashion) are aware that women's heels have gotten taller than Heidi Klum. Upshot: Foot pain is rampant. It's not just bankers who are getting rich in this economy. Foot doctors are doing fabulously, too, though somewhat to their dismay. As the average height of fashion heels has gone from 3 inches to 5 to 6 inches, women's visits to podiatrists for foot problems and toe woes have soared an estimated 75 percent in the last few years. Eight out of 10 women say their shoes are painful. (Killer shoes aren't the only fashion hazard. These clothes could make you sick, fat, or both.)
Not surprised? Neither are we. For Carrie Bradshaw and other fans of Manolos, walking has become an extreme fashion sport -- what one foot surgeon calls "shoe-icide." Peek under the chairs in Dr. Oz's TV audiences and kicked-off shoes are the rule. (Watch this video to learn why shoe height may matter less than length of wear.)
The good news is there's now evidence (from global business analysts at IBM, of all places) that as the economy tiptoes up, heel heights inch down. While it used to be hemlines that tied fashion to finance, stilettos appear to be the new economic indicators. You may have already spotted your neighborhood fashionista skipping around in ballet flats. What's next? The return of kitten heels, which top out at 2", the height most foot docs agree is the maximum for happy feet. We can hear women cheering now.