Running and walking can exert extra pressure on your feet. We cram our feet into tight-fitting, stiff shoes; subject them to the unnatural angles of high heels; pound them on pavement and asphalt; smother them in airless socks and shoes; or simply stand on them for hours on end. It's no wonder that the skin, 26 bones, and intricate webbing of muscles and ligaments in each of our feet sometimes can't stand up to the pressure.

Many common foot ailments are related to choice of shoes, especially in women. In a survey by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Association (AOFAS), more than three-fourths of women had some kind of foot pain. That's no surprise when you consider that the majority of them were wearing shoes that were smaller than their feet! Footwear that is too tight, too loose, airtight, or shaped in unnatural ways can cause or aggravate problems.

Nearly half of all women have first-hand experience with the dull throb of aching feet. Although an increase in standing or walking may be the cause, the culprit is often ill-fitting shoes. Because the fat padding on the bottom of the feet thins out over time, older women may find that this problem increases with age.