High Heel Aches and Wedge Woes

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They’re the hottest trends in women’s shoes this spring: stilettos, wedges, sparkles - basically anything with a high heel and some bling. But not only are shoe makers cashing in on this fad, so are doctors. Podiatrists say they stand to get a lot of business.

“This one was really hot for the girls for prom,” says Lynn Monson, as she points to a sparkly gold high-heel sandal.

Proms – weddings – you name it – most of us girls will make-up any old excuse to get new shoes. Face it ladies, we’re hooked on heels - and wedges - pointy toes - open toes – bows – bling – black – gold - Yep! We love them all, and this season is no different - especially when it comes to the latest trends.

“Definitely the thong sandals and the more embellishments the better,” says Monson.

Shoes fly off the shelves at ‘That Boutique’ in Rockford this time of year. But the one question the sales ladies don’t seem to get, ‘Are these shoes good for my feet?’

“That being said – you’re going to wear them anyway,” responds Dr. Phillip Seeber, of the Seeber Foot and Ankle Clinic in Rockford.

And that brutal fact is helping to keep Dr. Seeber in business: “If they want to keep wearing them, that’s fine with me,” he adds with a laugh.

But consider this: the average person takes 10-15 thousand steps a day…and in a heel:

“You’re locked in this position – so you’re slamming down as you walk and your knees are absorbing all the shock,” says Dr. Seeber.

Just how much shock?

“Multiply your body weight by three – every time you take a step- think of that impact resistance on your knee – so over time, that can take its toll.”

Take its toll in the form of ingrown nails, hammertoe, neuromas, bunions, and corns – to name a few. But Dr. Seeber says most of these problems are progressive. And he says we have a higher chance of stepping into them if we have a pre-existing condition - like those of us who’ve sprained or broken a foot or ankle before - or if our family history includes foot ailments.

“A lot of people think that it’s normal for their feet to hurt all the time (…) but there may be an underlying cause and there may be something that you can stop from becoming a surgical situation.”

The good news is - Dr. Seeber says – we can still wear heels and we can still indulge in the latest shoe trends. But like most things, he says do it in moderation.
“I tell people – if you want to wear dress shoes – fine – go out to dinner – but if you’re on your feet all day – switch back and forth.”

For example Dr. Seeber says bring tennis shoes or something more comfortable to slip into when you're on your lunch break or just sitting at your desk at work... Or he says - alternate between flats and high heels during the week.