Sponsored by FRANKiE4 Footwear
Let me tell you a little story about me and my feet. To be honest, I think I’ve taken them for granted most of my life. They’re there for me, stepping through each day and then the next.
But it wasn’t until I had a text conversation with the creator of FRANKiE4 Footwear, Caroline McCulloch, that I realised that the taking-for-granted situation had gone next level to neglect.
At the time of our text exchange, I was road-testing a prototype of an upcoming FRANKiE4 shoe. This is something I love doing as I get a little insight into one or two season’s ahead.
I take the job very seriously, taking photos and notes so that Caroline has my honest feedback about how the shoe works on my feet. Caroline is a podiatrist and physiotherapist. She does this testing with a number of women – as well as herself – before a shoe goes into production. We’re all have the same sized feet but our feet are all different in shape (and issues). And that’s how it is for every woman. No two feet are the same.
Anyway, on this particular day and on this particular shoe, my feedback was “super comfortable, just the same numbing and pins and needles under the left ball of my foot I get from wearing my running sneakers”.
Within seconds, Caroline was on the phone. She did not want to talk about the shoe at all. I was informed that numbing and pins and needles were NOT normal and I was
firmly encouraged told to get myself into one of the podiatrists at All Podiatry (the podiatry practice Caroline and her husband, Alan, own and operate).
That was about a year ago. I now wear orthotics in my sneakers and that has helped to eliminate the pins and needles caused by bursitis between two of my toes. It only flares up now if I’m walking longer than 10km at a time.
And because, this year, I’ve trained for a 30km walk and have continued to train regularly, as well as taking up running, I’ve made my podiatry visits an essential part of my ongoing health and wellness routine. Even after our trip to Europe (where we walked crazy amounts every day), I knew I needed to come in to have my feet and lower calves worked on because I now had a new normal. I also now know that these regular visits mean that I’ll keep on top of any possible emerging, future problems.
Because I know I’m not the only one out there who is clueless as to what constitutes “normal” and healthy in a foot, I sat down with Caroline and picked her brain about what we should be looking out for. FRANKiE4 Footwear is on a mission to save our soles for better foot health and we should all take note.
I’m also sharing with you some of the fabulous new flats that are available this spring-summer at FRANKiE4 (I covered off on some of the fabulous heels in this post). You are going to love. Read on also for how you can win one of two pairs.
FRANKiE4 Footwear designer Caroline McCulloch
SY: What’s the #1 health issue that women have with their feet?
CM: Several areas of the foot are frequently the cause of pain. At any given time 17–42% of the adult population are suffering foot pain! The medial arch (that’s the main arch of the foot), the big toe joint and the underside of the heel are the main culprits. The development of a bunion on the big toe joint is the MOST complained about foot health issue for women.
SY: What other problems are common in women’s feet?
- Plantar fasciitis – pain under the heel or along the arch
- Osteo-arthritis – can affect any joint of the foot or ankle
- Achilles tendonosis – pain at your Achilles (behind heel)
- Hammer/claw toe – toe deformity
- Morton’s neuroma – burning, Sal harp pain or numbness under the ball of the foot
- Corns and callous – usually over pressure points – often secondary to a combination of shoe irritation over arthritic joints
- Ingrown toe nails – -ain and inflammation down the side of the toe nails, most often the first toe. Frequently coupled with bacterial infection
- Fungal nail infections – 0ften after a pedicure at a less reputable salon where sterilisation of instruments is not performed. Also common with ladies and men who spend a lot of time in the garden.
FRANKiE4 Footwear MADDiE in black spot (will be re-stocked in December)
SY: How can each of these major foot problems be treated?
CM: A lot of painful conditions stem from the same underlying cause and therefore treatment can be very similar for different types of foot pain. Painful soft tissue or bony conditions such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonosis, Morton’s neuroma and even osteo-arthritis are most often managed by correcting poor alignment in the foot and improving footwear.
Biomechanical evidence indicates that foot orthotics and certain footwear may change muscle activation and gait patterns to reduce joint loading. This, in-turn, will reduce pain and inflammation in the affected areas. This is why I made FRANKiE4s. All FRANKiE4s have a functional footbed that I designed. The aim of all my designs is to alleviate or prevent any heel pain or arch pain, plantar fasciitis or forefoot pain.
Skin and nail conditions such as fungal nail, corns and callous and in-grown toe nails often require mechanical debriding of the skin, removal of affected nail and, in the case of fungal nail, chemical or laser treatment. These treatments should be performed by a podiatrist and may be a one-off treatment or require ongoing care.
SY: What are some of the warning signs or symptoms that we should be on alert for when it comes to our feet? What shouldn’t we ignore?
CM: Pain of any kind should not be ignored! (including numb feet NiKKi!) Many people have lived with pain in their feet for so long that they consider it normal. However, many people may also show early signs of some of the common foot conditions without feeling any pain.
With regards to bunions, look for an angular, bony bump on the inside of the foot at the base of the big toe joint. The “bump” may appear before any painful symptoms. Eventually, swelling, redness unusual tenderness and even warmth and shininess of the skin will appear.
Flat feet (over pronating or prolonged pronating feet) are the underlying cause of many foot problems … and hence the reason FRANKiE4s have arch support.
SY: Do you think women just take the soldier-on approach when it comes to caring for their feet? How can that approach impact their feet long term?
CM: Yes, I do! Women often ignore pain until it becomes extreme. Ignoring pain can mean that you are damaging the joints or soft tissue every time you are on your feet! Many foot conditions such as bunions and other forms of arthritis are progressive … meaning they get worse over time. The longer they are left untreated the more difficult they become to resolve.
Often just changing your shoes makes a huge difference. Footwear can be a cause of the pain, so changing to the right footwear is generally the best first step to treatment. It really is amazing what a supported pair of shoes can do. Footwear and podiatry treatment can not be separated, so getting the footwear (the foundation) right is critical.
SY: Just how bad for us are unsupported high heels?
CM: Bad! The main culprits are ultra-high stilettos or other high heels which do not have any cushioning underneath the ball of the foot or the arch. High heels push your centre of gravity forward, putting lots of pressure through your forefoot. The ankle is also put in a position that makes it unstable and more prone to damage.
When designing my heels, I took all of this into account. The functional footbed helps cushion and support the forefoot and mid-foot, while the actual heel is designed to feel stable underfoot.
SY: And it’s not just high heels, is it? Flat shoes without arch support can be problematic as well, can’t they?
CM: Yes, there are plenty of shoes out there that are very flat, unsupportive and offer little cushioning. This can put all sorts of strains through the feet. In particular, the development of plantar fasciitis has been linked to poor footwear. The constant pressure going through your arch can trigger the ligament running from your big toe to your heel (your plantar fascia) to become damaged and lead to plantar fasciitis.
SY: You’ve made it a mission to design and create comfortable shoes that look good (thank goodness!), but is every comfortable FRANKiE4 shoe suited to every foot problem?
CM: There are all sorts of shapes and sizes of feet out there. With the customised fit pack included in most FRANKiE4 active flats, the shoes accommodate a wide range of foot types.
The shoes can be set up to accommodate wider or narrower feet, and are also orthotic friendly. Some feet may require extra support in the shoe, in the form of an orthotic. If orthotics are part of a patient’s treatment plan, having a shoe to fit these orthotics is important.
Some styles suit certain foot types or “foot shapes” better than others. We have a second-to-none customer service team that can help pre-and post purchase. I design these shoes for women to love, so our team is there to help find the right style and size for our customer’s unique foot.
I’m also proud that we do design all the components of our shoes. We don’t outsource existing soles to supplement our range. We’re confident that we are actually the only podiatrist designed label that does design our own soles. The soles are so important, ultimately, they are the foundation of the shoe. I design my soles with biomechanics in mind; with the aim to reduce or alleviate heel, arch and forefoot pain.
SY: What do we have to consider when buying and wearing shoes if we have one of the common foot problems outlined above?
CM: The fit and function of shoes is very important. The best advice I could give that would be applicable across all foot types and all foot pathologies is, if it doesn’t feel good when you try them on, they aren’t the right shoe or size for you. This is why I invest heavily with customer service. Some feet are tricky to fit, and advice or recommendation is specific to the customer. We’re here to help women find their sole-mate.
The FRANKiE4 customer service experience
FRANKiE4 Footwear has two beautiful concept stores in Brisbane – at Indooroopilly and Windsor. If you live in south-east Queensland, a visit to either of these stores is a must. They are gorgeous spaces and home to the full range of FRANKiE4 shoes but you also get access to the most experienced fitters in the business.
Don’t live nearby? Do not panic. You can buy online with confidence. The customer service team is beyond amazing. They are there to help you make a decision that works for your feet and your lifestyle. Call them first if you’re unsure about what styles might work for you. Phone 1300 721 898 or email [email protected]. When buying, Australian standard shipping is free, you have 30 days from the date of purchase to exchange or return shoes provided they are in as-new condition and FRANKiE4 Footwear also covers return shipping. This applies to non-sale items only.
Making a difference
FRANKiE4 Footwear believes in giving back to its community. This year it’s developed “hidden” sockettes that not only stay in place on your feet while wearing sneakers but the net proceeds from the sale of each pack of three goes to support Brainchild Foundation, which aims to help children who are affected by brain and spinal cord tumours, and their families. Shop the sockettes HERE.
SHOP the full FRANKiE4 Footwear range HERE.
FRANKiE4 Footwear has one pair of new-season FRANKiE4 Footwear shoes to give away to TWO Styling You readers. Win a pair of FRANKiE4 Footwear shoes of your choice by checking out the full range of new-season shoes HERE and then leave an answer to the following question in the comments below:
Which FRANKiE4 Footwear flat should be re-named to your name because you can see yourself wearing almost every day? We want to hear why your soles needs saving.
Entries open on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 5am (AEST) and close on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 5pm (AEST). Australian entries only, sorry. The winners of the “answer the question” competition will be judged on originality and creativity. The winners will be emailed and their name will be published here. Entrants must include an email address when the filling in the commenting system below to be eligible to enter. Full terms and conditions here.
This photoshoot was shot on location at a private home in Paddington, Brisbane. Photography: The Photo Pitch; Hair and Makeup: Dale Dorning/Arc Creative; clothing featured is mostly new-season Mela Purdie from Zambezee Boutique.