High Heel Confidential with Dr. Robert Joseph, D.P.M.

Posted on December 22, 2013 by Victoria Thomas



“You’re killing me with those stilettos. Take them off. Now.”

Words every woman wants to hear? Maybe, especially if the man giving the orders is suave, debonaire, young, tall, dark and handsome with a zesty Boston accent you could spread on a saltine cracker.

Just one problem: the command is given by Dr. Robert Joseph, DPM, leading Los Angeles foot and ankle surgeon, and he disapproves of my footwear. Period.

He approaches the delicate birdcage of the human foot, with its impossibly airy mesh of bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments, with respect. Not usually true of his patients. He’s repaired the frayed Achilles Tendons of major pro athletes who shred themselves for the long green. And he’s rescued the crushed, crunched toes, bulging bunions and atrophied calf-muscles of red-carpet divas who can strike a pose and hold the grip-and-grin just until the visual goes viral.

But because this is Hollywood, the IDs and deets are strictly hush-hush.

Similar perils face ordinary folk like you and I, and Dr. Robert Joseph, who has been a practicing foot and ankle surgeon in Los Angeles since 1999 and was just recently named Director of Podiatry at Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City, CA, has advice to share.

GIVE IT A REST. Don’t wear killer heels every day. Even Kardashians deserve a day off.

BE CAREFUL — IT’S CHRISTMAS. This time of year is risky for the frisky if we’re talking Choo’s and Louboutin’s. Begin with a six-inch spike; add five inches of snow (or even a sheen of LA sleet); add four margaritas, mojitos and Manhattans; add 3 a.m., ; two taxi-calls, one lost key, and there is no partridge or pear tree to be seen anywhere. How did it get so early? Holidays lead to imbalances of all kinds, and tall, tippy shoes and tipsy times can send even a stable gal–and we don’t mean the shaggy, away-in-a-manger, “round yon Virgin” kinda stable– tumbling.

TOO MUCH BUTTER IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU. Ask Paula Deen or Oprah. But here we’re talking about those buttery, soft, squishy, suede-and-sheepskin slipper boots that are like morphine for your feet. Yes, like butter. Too much of a good thing.

They’re fine for sprawling in front the fire, feet parked on the ottoman, roasting a few chestnuts and warbling along to “White Christmas” with Der Bingle. But Dr. Joseph simply, sweetly reminds us, “They’re great slippers.” These buttery things do not stabilize the heel, and do not support the arch. Thus, if you stand or walk in them for hours on end, your feet will hurt, and you may do some more lasting damage.

GET A GRIP. Literally and figuratively. First, let’s not go too gung-ho on the New Year’s Resolutions. Dr. Joseph reports that good intentions of the New Year result in injuries. “People want to get in shape, which is wonderful, but they don’t investigate proper footwear,” he says.

He warns against dashing out the door on January 1, guns blazing, clad in a pair of sneakers of indeterminate provenance. Instead, first visit a foot and body-mechanics expert, discuss your intended fitness plan for the new year, match your shoe to your workout, and yes, you do need to buy new, high quality athletic shoes each year. Orthotics are often the secret to a perfect fit, especially in athletic shoes. Dr. Robert Joseph is the founder of DoctorInsole, the first over-the-counter corrective orthotic with patent pending technology. These are nothing like those weird, perforated foamy things in Walgreen’s. These orthotics slip discreetly inside even the snakiest, slinkiest, skankiest, strappiest heel, and there are less wanton versions for men’s shoes and athletic shoes, too.

“Gripping” and stretching exercises help prevent injuries, especially Plantar Fasciitis, that bane of weekend warriors. Men past 40 who carry excess weight, are especially prone to this painful and common injury– especially the recently divorced who now have hot younger girlfriends they’re trying to impress on the tennis court. Not that that’s a bad thing. Just sayin’.

Stretching the feet every day, first thing in the morning, is always a good idea, especially if you plan to prance around in cray-cray heels ’til last call, play an impact sport, or if your job requires that you stand or walk for long periods of time.

A few more tips from Dr. Joseph for happy feet in 2014:

Stretch your bare feet out in front of you, on a thick towel. “Grip” and grab at the towel with the toes of one foot. Imagine your toes are prehensile fingers, the way Nature once intended. Relax, then repeat on the other side.

Roll a tennis ball under the arch of your foot. Roll in all directions, spreading and “opening” the toes as you roll. Switch feet. Repeat. If your feet are on fire from strutting the cement in stilettos, swap the ball for a freezing-cold can of diet anything. Ahhhhh. Whether you choose to pop the top and quaff it is up to you.

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Lift one foot, and bend the other knee until you are in a balanced squat. Hold, then gently return to standing position. Repeat with other foot, bending other knee. Do a few at first, gradually adding reps.


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