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High heels can cause sharp pain - give your feet a rest

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"Sex and the City" has been off the air for more than a year now, but it appears Carrie Bradshaw's legacy lives on.

Last year American women bought 819 million pairs of shoes, according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association. And that doesn't include sneaks.

An unfortunate side effect to our love affair with fantabulous shoes - be they too high, narrow, cheap or pointy - are blisters, cracked heels, corns, or worse.

Amy Jo Gladstone, who designs cushy slides, slippers and flips favored by Teri Hatcher, Charlize Theron and Christina Applegate knows first-hand about being a style slave. She adored her stilettos so much a podiatrist had to intervene.

"After two foot surgeries, I made it my mission to design shoes that women can stand to wear for more than 10 minutes - and look good," the New Yorker says.

Here, she gives five tips for keeping pain at bay:

1. Do spot inspections: "Pay attention to changes in color and temperature of your feet," says Gladstone. "Look for thick or discolored nails a sign of developing fungus, and check for cracks or cuts in the skin. Peeling or scaling on the soles of feet could indicate athlete's foot."

When showering, scrub those tootsies, "especially between the toes, and be sure to dry them completely." Talcum powder's never a bad call, either. While they're still warm, remove hard skin and calluses gently with a pumice stone, not scissors ("yee-ouch").

2. Making the cut: "Trim toenails straight across, but not too short. Be careful not to trim them in corners or on the sides," she says, because it can lead to ingrown toenails.

Suffering from particularly loud barkers? At night, slather on the moisturizer and wear socks to bed.

3. Shop smart: Sizes vary among brands and styles. So don't just grab any old pair by the size you see on the box. Take the time to try them on.

Like life, timing in shoe shopping is everything. "Purchase new pairs later in the day when feet tend to be at their largest, and replace worn out shoes as soon as possible."

You may be guilty of this, so heed Gladstone's words: "Don't purchase shoes that feel too tight, expecting them to stretch to fit."

4. Get your number: "Have both of your feet measured regularly. The size changes as you grow older," she advises. "Most people have one foot larger than the other. Fit to the larger one." Also, don't wear out your welcome. "Alternate; don't put on the same pair every day."

5. Be cautious: Avoid walking barefoot - you'll be more prone to injury and infection. With exposed sandals, always use sunblock.

Your feet don't know squat about fashion. Chances are, if you buy those teetering five-inchers, they'll rebel. Resist the urge to pop blisters. Ride `em out with a Band-Aid and give yourself a break with those rockin' kicks for a while.

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(c) 2005, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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