Feet have been a focal point of my life for as long as I can remember. My mother tells me that by the age of two, I was a regular patient at the Hospital for the Ruptured and Disabled in New York City (now part of the Hospital for Special Surgery). There I was fitted with my first pair of orthopedic shoes. They were supposed to correct my very bowed baby legs, which were hampering my ability to walk, but those cumbersome shoes were only the beginning of my difficulties.
Through elementary and middle school, my parents insisted that my very flat, very wide feet needed all the podiatric assistance they could get: aka – institutional-looking footwear. “It is for your own good,” they said. But I didn’t care. All I wanted was what every girl my age craved: black patent-leather “Mary Janes.”
After my graduation from high school, I was determined to take charge of my own feet. Armed with my burgeoning studies in physical therapy, I decided there had to be another way, outside of tennis shoes and lace-ups, to keep me upright. My foot problems hadn’t gone away completely, but I slowly discovered I could wear whatever I wanted on my feet, provided I was willing to do a little work. From learning new ways to shop for shoes, to working out some exercises for my leg and calf muscles, to researching which at-home foot pampering programs worked best for my feet, I was not going back to being that girl self-consciously plodding along in orthotics. I was going to be the girl in the “Mary Janes.”
Now, I am the woman in the Manolos. And the Jimmy Choos, the Michael Kors, the Pradas and the Louis Vuittons; and through my work as a practicing podiatrist, educator and author, I have discovered that I am not alone in my “foot focus.” Millions of people suffer from regular foot aches, pains and problems, most of us unnecessarily. My patients often come to me when they are in periods of transition—growing up or moving on—and it has become my goal to get my patients back on their feet, both literally and figuratively. From stilettos to cleats, our feet carry us through our lives, making first impressions and leaving lasting ones. The more we know about how to take care of them, the better.
Feet tell of the journey they’ve been on, and can relay the stories of a life lived well or lived poorly. They tell secrets to those who care to read them. My feet tell the story of an ambitious young girl overcoming adversity to achieve great success. What do yours say about you?