Most of us have read or heard the story of Cinderella and The Glass Slipper; which involves a beautiful young woman, a fairy godmother and two ugly stepsisters. As the story goes Cinderella’s life was transformed because she, and not her stepsisters could fit into the glass slipper.
Fortunately for me there are far too many of the stepsisters running around (not necessarily unattractive) that are trying to fit their feet into shoes that don’t fit or at least are not designed for their particular foot structure. This of course leads to a multitude of uncomfortable foot problems.
The term “well-heeled” is said to have originated in France. Legend ascribes that several centuries ago the queen wanted to look taller and more glamorous so she commissioned a local cobbler to create shoes with higher heels. This became all the rage and was one that only the affluent could afford at the time – therefore “well-heeled” became synonymous with being wealthy. In my podiatry office the term “well-heeled” is frequently synonymous with foot and Achilles discomfort. Depending on the design of the shoe, a one inch heel can increase the pressure on your feet by twenty percent, two inches can add up to fifty percent and three inches can increase the pressure by a staggering seventy five percent. If you add to this abnormal pressures created by bunions, hammer toes, bone spurs and other structural problems that can occur with our feet, the “well-heeled” foot can lead to frequent visits to your podiatrist.
What’s a girl to do…
Try keeping your heel height to one and a half to two inches in height for daily use, and alternate heel heights during the course of the week, save the three inch stilettos for social occasions. Alternating the height of your heels and using flats to one inch heels occasionally during the week will give your feet a rest and give you a better chance of not shortening your Achilles tendon over time. As you raise your heel height, you cause the Achilles tendon to be in a more relaxed position which can lead to shortening over time and difficulty wearing casual shoes without heels. This can also lead to increased risk for Achilles tendon ruptures during athletics and exercise. If you have bunions, hammer toes or other foot deformities wear shoes that are made of soft, supple leather or fabric. This will allow the shoe to stretch and conform to your foot better. As women age and with certain foot conditions the fat pad at the ball of your foot can thin or move, this can lead to a sore and bruised feeling at the ball of the foot. Wearing a heeled shoe with internal padding in the bottom of the front of the shoe will decrease pressure on the ball of your feet.
Tony Hsieh the founder of Zappos must have known the Glass Slipper fairytale very well, because there aren’t many things that bring more happiness to a woman that new shoes delivered to her front door … just ask Cinderella!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Solon is a Board Certified Podiatrist and has practiced in the Grand Rapids area for the past 27 years. He has served as a consultant to the Grand Rapids Ballet and is pleased to be the Foot Specialist of choice for referrals by many of Grand Rapids finest physicians. http://www.grandrapidspodiatry.com/