Then and now. Womens’ feet still hurt.

foot-xraySunday, February 10th marks the beginning of Chinese New Year. This is the most important holiday for Chinese people around the world. The Year of the Dragon transitions into the Year of of the Snake.

kidsAn interesting ancient Chinese custom is called foot binding.   This tradition consisted of applying painfully tight binding to the feet of young girls to prevent their feet from further growing.  This slow, agonizing method of crushing the bones and flesh produced a foot that looked like a narrow, pointed shape of a crescent moon, the so-called “Golden Lotus”. Foot-binding resulted in lifelong disabilities for most of its subjects, and some elderly Chinese women still survive today with disabilities related to their bound feet.


By wrapping a long strip of cloth over the four smaller toes, under the instep and around the heel the toes eventually broke and flattened under the sole of the foot.

orientalshoeToday modern society considers high heels “cute, stylish, and sexy”. Expected as professional attire in many work places, they narrow the foot, contouring to make it look slender. The tight fit of many heels force the toes to conform to its shape. The added pressure on the toes can exacerbate bunions and hammertoes.  Shoe friction causes corns to form.  Compression of the metatarsal bones (long bones in the foot) places pressure on the nerves running between then forming a painful burning sensation called a neuroma.

By constantly elevating the heel, the calf muscle and Achilles tendon contracts and shortens.  Eventually by routinely wearing extremely high heels, a woman may be unable to tolerate a flat shoe. Habitually wearing heels increases the chances of Achilles tendonitis or shin splints.


Knee pain is common due to the heel height placing increased strain on the knee joint and the surrounding tendons.   Instability occurs while walking due to the change in posture.  While balancing on a narrow tall heel, the foot could shift suddenly resulting in a twisting of the ankle causing a sprain or tear of the ligament known as an ankle sprain.
Remember, a shoe is meant to fit the foot, not squeeze it relentlessly.

Since many women today do not have a choice regarding wearing heels to work, some tips include:

  • Choose heels lower in height with plenty of room for the toes to move.
  • Choose thicker, shock-absorbent soles, as well as proper insoles that are designed to keep excessive pressure off of the forefoot.
  • Avoid high-heeled shoes over two inches tall since they place undue strain on the forefoot.
  • Resting, massage and apply ice to the affected foot to temporarily alleviate pain.

Avoid allowing your feet to pay the price for style. Wear the right fitting shoe for your foot. If after finding an attractive comfortable high heeled shoe you continue to have pain, call your podiatrist who will get you back on your feet.

Dr. Olga Garcia Luepschen and the Gentle Foot Care Center are located on US 27.  Visit us at or call 863-314-9255(walk)


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