“My feet are killing me,” is the first thing my new patients say to me. And always from the women, “please don’t tell me I can’t wear heels anymore.” I answer that “no, your feet don’t have to kill you” and “yes, you can wear your high heels,” but first things first. My motto is, “treat your feet the way your would your face.” We all spend a lot of time and money on creams, lotions and treatments for your complexion. But instead of worrying so much about our faces we should spend more time worrying about the architectural wonder: our feet.
By way of introduction, my name is Dr. Suzanne Levine and I am the creator of “Pillows For Your Feet,” the instant remedy to relieve foot discomfort. I’m also the author of several books, including “My Feet Are Killing Me!” to be published this fall. It is a complete updating of the book I published with the same title in 1987 and a follow up to “Your Feet Don’t Have to Hurt,” published in 2001. A lot has changed in the world of podiatry and all things foot-related. Feet keep moving and so does podiatric medicine. I love what I do.
I’m a Board-Certified Podiatric Surgeon, a teacher and instructor, a co-chair of the International Aesthetic Foot Society, which is a global network of podiatrists who practice aesthetic podiatry, and I’m a tireless researcher. I have a busy New York City office, called the Institute Beaute at 885 Park Avenue, and for over 25 years I’ve been treating patients and practicing at the forefront of podiatric surgery with the latest state-of-the-art medical treatments. This includes lasers that can get rid of nail fungus, injectable implants that can cushion painful soles, and bone implants to restore some flexibility to a stiff big toe. And I’ve got much more in the pipeline we’ll be trying in the months and years ahead.
Not only are these modern treatments more effective, often they are less painful and require shorter recovery time than older techniques. The evolution is truly amazing. Today, we understand that everything that you do affects your feet including your diet, medication, tobacco and alcohol habits, and exercise. I listen to my patients issues and concerns as it relates to everything from the ankles down— they usually don’t know that back trouble is caused by foot problems, which also figures into their stories—and despite all the information so easily available in this day and age I’m amazed that so many people still don’t know how to give their feet the attention they need. My objective for every patient I see is that they feel their best and return to their favorite pair of shoes as soon as possible—even if they are stilettos or running shoes. My objective for people who buy Pillows For Your Feet is exactly the same.
As I said, my motto is, “treat your feet the way you would your face.” In fact, you could argue that your feet are more important. I see many patients who look great. They’re wearing designer clothes and fabulous jewelry and, thanks to wrinkle-smoothing treatments (and perhaps a plastic surgeon), their faces don’t age. But they walk with a shuffling gait or they have nail fungus (or both). What they don’t realize is that the true fountain of youth is walking well, exercising, having proper posture, and healthy feet and toes. That is far more anti-aging than a facelift. Think about it: nothing ages you more than a lack of mobility and you can easily tell someone’s age by his or her gait. Turning back the clock starts with your feet and it is never too late to begin. The good news is that you can run to a physically and mentally fit future on feet that you can be proud of—and that do you proud.
As you can see, this is a subject I’m passionate about. Not only am I a New York podiatrist with many celebrity patients, I’m almost like a foot psychic. I can read a lot about people in their feet—your feet are literally and figuratively—the mirror of your soul. I’m also a shoe lover and someone who has had challenging feet since the day I was born. Feet have been a focal point of my life for as long as I can remember, and I honestly don’t recall a time when my feet weren’t on my mind, for better or for worse.
At two-years-old, I was a regular patient at what is now New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery, formerly “The Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled” before political correctness was an issue. I was severely bowlegged and had very wide feet with sagging arches (also known as “flat feet”), issues that were affecting my ability to learn to walk. Today, we would treat these conditions with custom orthotics made of thermal plastics that you slip in your shoes and no one knows they are there besides you. But when I was a child the answer was orthopedic shoes that had a major support system to lift the foot and attached to your leg with what looked like a brace. (Move over Forest Gump.) Unfortunately, these cumbersome shoes only made matters worse when it came to me learning to walk. By the time I turned five-years-old, my hideous, special shoes were a regular topic of conversation in my family. They were ugly, lacked any little-girl appeal, and made it nearly impossible to run or jump.
Kids teased me constantly. I begged not to wear them, but my parents insisted that my very flat, wide feet and developing bunion needed all the podiatric assistance they could get. Of course, it was for my own good, but I didn’t care. I wanted the pretty, pink sneakers and shiny, black, patent leather Mary Jane shoes that all the other girls my age were wearing. But it was not to be, at least not yet. Heavy, ugly, uncomfortable orthopedic shoes were my lot. As you can imagine, given my feelings and the expense of the shoes, the regular shopping trips for them were an ordeal for everyone involved. (The only perk was the balloon I’d get at the shoe store, but even the excitement of that wore off around the age of seven.)
By my tenth birthday, I knew all about problem feet and which arch supports and inserts could get me through a day at school. Since sneakers were still out of the question, my participation in school sports was nil. Ballet and tap dancing lessons were also off-limits. Not only did all this inactivity make for a chubby childhood, it ostracized me. I felt the pain of having “abnormal feet” both physically and psychologically. And I felt it for many years – especially since I had to wear those laced-up, brown, orthopedic oxfords until I was sixteen-years-old. Yes, sixteen! Can you imagine? In a world where heels and strappy sandals reigned supreme, my feet immediately labeled me as a misfit and made it hard for me to make friends. Dating was difficult to say the least.
But all that changed after high school when I began to take charge and pointed my feet in a new direction. While studying physical therapy in college, I learned how to rebel happily and comfortably in terms of footwear. Finally, I had a closet full of heels—elevating both my body and my spirit. (It should come as no surprise that after a childhood in brown orthopedic shoes, heels are still a passion – bordering on an obsession – of mine.) Though my foot problems hadn’t gone away, I wore what I wanted by learning how to shop for shoes, how to exercise the muscles of my legs and calves, how to stretch the ligaments in my feet, and which at-home, foot-pampering treatments worked best for my bunion and flat, wide feet which tired easily.
I also discovered that I wasn’t alone in my foot focus. Millions of people like me suffered from regular foot aches and pains, most of us unnecessarily. Now, I understand that eight out of ten foot problems can be prevented and most of the rest can easily be cured. (Oh, how different my childhood would have been if I’d known that back then!)
After college, I worked as a physical therapist treating stroke victims, paraplegics, and amputees, many of whom had served in the Vietnam War. It was then that I began to realize just how miraculous walking really is. I also realized how fortunate I was to have two legs, even though they were bowed, and two feet, no matter how wide, how flat, or how encumbered with bunions and eventually hammertoes. My serious interest in podiatry was born. As a physical therapist I was a perfect candidate for podiatry school. The way you move your entire body begins with your feet. Being well grounded is essential – literally and figuratively.
As a practicing podiatrist, I know the importance of healthy feet. But as a woman, I understand the psychological damage that can occur when you can’t wear fashionable shoes. Well the future is here and progress has been made—now almost everyone can find comfortable and stylish shoes if you know what to look for.
At the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, my professors used me as an example because the shoes that I wore to class were those that they cautioned patients against wearing. My flat, wide, bunioned feet with hammertoes made good lecture material, but I was sure that my professors were wrong. My shoes weren’t the cause of my foot ailments. The ailments came first. It was my careful management of my feet that allowed me to wear fabulous shoes and be the person I always dreamed I could be. I have learned what my feet need. I wear orthotics or Pillows For Your Feet in my shoes; I’ve treated my toenails for fungus, and had hammertoe surgery on the second toe on my right foot. (And believe it or nor I did the surgery myself). No, they’re not the most attractive feet. But they’re mine and it’s no doubt that they led me on the path to a career I’m passionate about.
Why? Because I want other women to feel comfortable in their own skin and attractive in their shoes. What makes me a rarity, is that I’m a female podiatrist because – believe it or not – there still aren’t many of us out there. It always bothers me when male podiatrists get interviewed about women’s feet because they always say the same thing: “Women shouldn’t wear heels. They’re terrible for you.” But that’s not realistic. It’s like saying, “Don’t ever eat sugar or carbs again.” It’s not a lifestyle change that most women can make. Sure, you can eliminate heels for one week, but it’s not reality to do so forever. There’s a psychological implication because many women don’t feel like women without their heels. I know I don’t! I think everyone should be afforded the opportunity to wear heels – at least in moderation. And you can too!
With the right treatments, at-home care and Pillows For Your Feet in your shoes and, if needed, doctor’s office procedures, your feet can feel fabulous and look their best.
Well, if you are ready to shop for the right Pillows For Your Feet solution for your need, please head on over to our Online Store. Or, if you are curious about how Pillows For Your Feet works, click the ‘How Do They Work’ button. Or if you are not sure if the problems you are experiencing will really be solved by Pillows For Your Feet, click ‘Ask Dr. Suzanne Levine’ to learn more.