Hell On High Heels


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“If I hadn’t been a woman, I’d be a drag queen for sure. I like all that flair and I’d be dressing up in them high heels and putting on the big hair. I’d be like RuPaul.”

-Dolly Parton

Hell on high heels. That used to be me. Pretty red ones. Black and white lace Manolo Blahniks. 4-inch stacked platform boots. Yes, I was hell on high heels. I loved being able to instantaneously transform myself from an average height of 5’4” into a taller, more willowy version of myself. I loved seeing the world from a different, more elevated view. The ability to look someone in the eyes and not up their nostrils is a highly underrated phenomenon. I was always shocked when taking off my heels after a night out at the difference in height that a heel can make. A shoeless Cinderella, transformed back into a vertically-challenged pumpkin.

Lately, however, I’m less hell on high heels and more hell on ballet flats and Super Feet orthotics. Not sexy, but neither is the air cast I had to wear for two months last fall. After a failed attempt at stuffing the air cast into a pair of pumps, I dug deep in my soul and found the strength to follow my doctor’s no heels policy while my leg was healing. Believe me when I say I asked him repeatedly to confirm that heels were in fact, not an option.

The fall and winter months passed and I did nothing more than look lovingly upon my favorite heels as they sat on the shelves of my closet, pleading silently with me to take them out for a night. I said no, time and time again, but suffered a relapse the night of the Nashville Triathlon Club holiday party in December. I paid the price in pain for the next few days. Worth it? I wonder.

As much as I love heels, I am coming to understand that they actually pose a real threat to my bone and muscle health. I came across an interesting New York Times blog post written by Gretchen Reynolds, alleging that women who walk in heels are much more prone to strain injuries. Not to mention the potential for actual breaks and more serious injuries that could result from a night of dancing on table tops with the cute groomsman at your cousin’s wedding. I myself will admit to taking many a footwear-related nosedive. (Click here to read the full blog post. If you are a wearer of heels, it’s a must-read.)

Imagine my surprise last week when I read a news item regarding Bethenny Frankel’s recent promotion of her Skinnygirl Daily Stiletto workout at an NYC fitness studio. As an arbiter of all things healthy, wealthy and wise, I was surprised to see her endorsement of something that seems so, for lack of a better description, bat-shit crazy. Working out in heels? Call me old-fashioned, but I can say with complete certainty, that my participation in Bethenny’s class would have landed me in traction. My extreme clumsiness makes daily demands on my body and I can only imagine what tragedy would ensue while doing squats in Choos.

Ironically, I’m back in that air cast for a few weeks after a minor reoccurrence of the stress reaction that developed in my tibia while training for the Santa Rosa Island Triathlon last year. Just when I thought I might be able to treat my favorite heels to a romantic dinner and night out on the town, I’m back at zero heel tolerance for the foreseeable future.

To all my stiletto-loving friends out there, safe heeling!

For an interesting read on the history of high heels, read RandomHistory.com’s article, Dangerous Elegance: A History of High-Heeled Shoes. 

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5 Comments on “Hell On High Heels

  1. I feel for you, Girl! A back injury put me on the “no heels” plan some time ago. I treasured my heels. I loved how they looked and how they made me feel. During my last move I did some tough love donating. There are places that help women who are starting over and can’t really afford to “dress for success” in job interviews. My shoes went there. I confess that I held back some of my favourites and when I can I will risk wearing them and pay the price the next day or so. I often think of my years of working in heels as the ultimate workout but I would never on purpose put them on to exercise!

  2. Sigh I have a closet full of beautiful heels and so many more that I want to purchase. They haven’t been on my feet in a long time. I noticed the bones in my big toe were moving after years of wearing them and my mother had to have foot surgery when I was younger and it traumatized me. I’ll still pull a pair out here and there and can’t make myself get rid of them.

    I thought the same thing you did when seeing that workout….how nuts. Now, I have seen articles about workouts that women who wear heels should do to keep themselves more protected, which makes a lot more sense.

    But, I will be purchasing a lot of flats for spring.

    • I’m at five new pairs of flats for spring. I went on a bender at TJ Maxx and bought every pair of spring flats they had. I can’t stop! Yes, a workout aimed at protecting the muscle health of women who wear heels is much smarter!

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