Rising high heels correlate with falling economy. And pain.

By Petula Dvorak
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ah, spring.

Cherry blossoms, baby ducklings, heel blisters, tendon pulls, ankle fractures.

Yes, sisters, the spring shoe season is upon us, and this year the heels are perilously, freakishly high.

And I'm not just talking about the weirdo fashion week hooves you saw on the runways or the clear Lucite stilts in a certain catalogue that comes in the mail and has to be hidden from teenage boys.

No, this year, nearly every McShoe store in America has its iteration of four-, five- or even six-inch heels.

During the first heat wave of the spring, podiatrist Howard Osterman looked down at the shoes around him as he rode the Metro Red Line into work and knew that his practice was going to have a very good year.

Sky-high espadrilles. Platforms. Stilettos. Wedges. A podiatrist, standing in his sensible, orthopedic shoes, in a forest of gazelles.

They will come to him. Eventually.

"I saw Lady Gaga on TV the other night wearing 10-inch heels," Osterman told me. "I knew right there this year is going to be a busy one for me."

Women walk in off the street to his I Street office, having recently collapsed at a curb or been freshly plucked from a steam grate. "One woman was wearing six-inch heels. I told her: 'Okay, let's not be drastic. Let's be realistic. You want to wear heels? How about two-inch heels?' " She snapped right back: "Two inches are not heels."

Osterman, who has practiced in downtown Washington for about 20 years, said the kinds of injuries he sees are cyclical, alongside fashion trends.

The low, thick heels of the grungy '90s left legions of women with happy feet. It was easy to walk, no challenge to commute between home, Metro, bus and office. But during the past 10 years, , the heels have grown higher, as have the bunions, torn tendons and neuromas.

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