Lady Gaga: What the Heel?

We are going Gaga for those crazy meshugena heels!  They are cool, I guess, and sort of painful looking, but are they bad?  In my NYC podiatry practice, I see all kinds of foot ailments.  Achilles tendonitis, heel pain, arch pain, and then of course the assorted lumps and bumps, strains and sprains, aches and pains.  Along with dispensing foot-saving treatments, I offer some lifesaving advice, much of it on lifestyle and proper footwear.

Over the years that I have been practicing, the styles have changed.  Ballet flats, Chinese slippers, pumps, wedges, slides, Crocs, Uggs, Loubs, Blahniks, blah blah blah.  Some are flat, some are high heels, and some are just in the middle.  Often I am asked if high heels are at the nexus of an axis of evil, the devil incarnate, and a living purgatory.  Well the answer is – that all depends.  For some patients, specifically those with a high arch, heels tend to be more comfortable.  And after contemplating the shape of the foot, this makes perfect sense.  A heel places the arch in a more contracted position, thus relieving the pressure from the bottom of the foot, whereas a flat will stretch the arch out.  And those with a flatter foot often find a flat provides a better level of comfort by helping the foot adapt to the ground.

What’s more, I often advise patients with certain conditions (specifically plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and certain types of ankle tendonitis) to use a slightly elevated shoe (read: heel) to relieve the pressure on the back of the foot.  And it is indeed a surprise to most people to hear the podiatrist recommend a high heel.  Just for the record too, high heels do not cause bunions – your parents gave you those; they are hereditary, so blame them – but they can make them more symptomatic.  Same goes for hammertoes.

The bottom line is that each foot has an ideal shoe.  Be sensible about it, and use a shoe appropriate for your foot type.  Overall, I see more problems resulting from flat shoes than from heels.  As I stated in last week’s blog, I am not a big fan of flip flops.  Not so sure if I would trade them in for heels, but pound for pound it’s certainly possible.

See you in the office.

Ernest L. Isaacson, DPM