It’s a love-hate relationship – women and heels.
We all know it feels great to put on a spindly stiletto or a towering platform.
But it comes with a plethora of issues.
From burning feet and damaged nails to twisted ankles and back pain, most of us simply accept the bitter side effects.
However, Dr Suzanne Levine claims there are things we can do to avoid the pitfalls without sacrificing what we want to wear – but it isn’t easy.
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Julianne Moore (left) and Kim Kardashian (right) know the perils of high heels – but persevere
‘You’ve really got to work in order to wear high heels. Most people aren’t willing to do that, that’s the problem,’ Dr Levine explained to Daily Mail Online.
‘You cannot wear heels and be out of shape. It’s really about exercising.
‘You have to pay attention to your body.
‘If you wear heels and you don’t exercise you will sustain injuries.’
Known as the ‘podiatrist in high heels’, Dr Levine speaks from experience. She never works in flats.
‘I’m standing in three-inch high heels right now,’ she says over the phone, offering to send a photo to confirm.
‘I can’t imagine wearing anything but a heel. I live wearing heels.
Known as the ‘podiatrist in high heels’, Dr Levine speaks from experience. She never works in flats
‘There’s something that makes me feel younger, feminine. I just feel lighter on my feet, I feel different. It makes you feel very stylish.’
As Dr Levine admits, we are not made to walk in heels. They do wonders for our pelvic floor, and help to tone your backside, but that’s about it.
However, she says, there are some exercises you can do for each issue.
The most common complaint is a burning sensation in the balls of the feet.
‘A lot of the weight is transmitted to the balls of the feet so you get that burning,’ Dr Levine explains.
‘The bottom of the floor rubs against your foot and we lose cushioning.’
This is a natural process. As we age we lose the cushioning in our feet.
DON’T RELY ON PEDICURES
Most women will treat themselves to a callous-blitzing pedicure the day after a night out or a week of work in heels.
Dr Levine warns that could make everything worse.
‘A pedicure doesn’t fix that,’ she warns.
‘Sometimes taking off too much of the callous, it accelerates the problem.’
Your best bet, she says, is trying to increase the cushioning in your foot and shoe.
Amy Schumer’s toes looked a little pinched in these (left) and Chrissy Teigen’s in these (right)
Dr Levine has invented an injection called Pillows For Your Feet which fills in parts of the feet that have lost cushioning.
She uses an ingredient called polylactic acid, which is injected after scanning the areas to see where needs a boost.
‘It’s a biodegradable material that’s not dangerous,’ she told the Mail.
‘Once you start using it it starts to build up collagen. There’s always a chance of granuloma but that’s less than one per cent.
‘It lasts anywhere between nine months and four years.
‘I’ve been doing this for 17 years and I’ve trained many doctors to do it – doctors in Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom take the course that I give twice a year.’
TRY CUSHIONING INSOLES
Dr Levine also recommends an insert version of Pillows For Your Feet, which acts like a gel pad.
‘The key is adding some cushioning to the external part of the shoe.
‘It’s hard to find that in a high fashion shoe.’
Poor Sarah Jessica Parker had to squash her feet into these (left) and Emma Stone (right) donned some eye-watering silver pumps despite bearing blisters on her heels
BACK AND HIP PROBLEMS
Women who often were high heels tend to develop pain in their lower back, neck and shoulders.
This is for a number of reasons.
First, walking on the balls of your feet shifts your center of gravity forward, which naturally drives you to arch your back.
Second, heels put the foot at an angle.
This means the muscles are pulled tight and the joints aren’t positioned in their natural alignment.
The foot muscles pull on the calf muscle, which pulls on the hamstring, which pull on the pelvis and lower back.
Structurally, the plantar fascia in the foot is connected to the calf muscle, which in turn connects to the hamstring.
So how can we combat this?
Emma Thompson had the right idea: Take your heels off once in a while to rest your hips
WORK ON YOUR CORE
‘You need to tighten your stomach,’ Dr Levine explained.
‘I do Pilates every week. You need to do abdominal exercises.’
‘Keep your the shoulders back when walking.
‘Walk with a wide step.
‘Making sure your alignment and posture are good.
‘Making sure that your landing on your heel, the outer part of your heel.’
DO FOOT EXERCISES AT YOUR DESK
Dr Levine recommends a number of foot exercises to strengthen your leg muscles.
First, write the alphabet with your foot while you’re sat at your desk.
Second – her personal favorite – practice pushing an imaginary gas pedal.
‘You need to strengthen those small muscles that don’t get exercised during the day, and stretch the heel cord.’
TAKE A BREAK
‘Alternate your heel height for two hours a day,’ Dr Levine advises.
‘It takes that pressure off your hips.
‘The key really is moderation.’
LATERAL ANKLE SPRAINS AND TWISTS
The only sure-fire way of avoiding medical emergencies is to strengthen your ankles.
You can do this by trying ballet classes or yoga or squat jumps.
Dr Levine also recommends a simple home exercise.
Buy a rubber exercise band and put it around your ankles.
Step 10 times to the left then 10 times to the right a few times once a day.
That will strengthen both your thighs and your ankles.