High Heel Foot Problems

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Thank you for your detailed answer.

to be honest, J.J, i tried to be in 4 inch heels for 24 hours, and after a week i stop it. because i can't do two things with them:

i can't sleep with them.
i can't watch tv with them.

so for a month now ( from the 1.12.02) i am wearing my 4 inch heels for 12 hours every day. include sunday. what do you think, it's enough to make me permanent high heeled woman of 4 inch heels.

J.J i want it very bad, but i know that this is the most i can do. if you think it's enough - how long you think it will take ?. as you recommanded, i wear very comfort boots with tight ankles.

maybe i can do any exercise or something else, to make it faster ?

i understand why susan want it as fast as she can....

waiting for your replay J.J, And thank you.

I.B. - 03 Jan 2003

Hi, Ilse -

<< i can't sleep with them. >>

I know of several women who have slept while wearing high heels. Spook, a real person who has appeared on radio and television for wearing corsets, said she wore high heels "24x7" and that included ballet boots with high heels attached. So, it can be done.

The high heel shoes or boots must fit properly WITHOUT ANY TIGHT SPOTS. Nobody can sleep with sharp pain in their feet, but some very minor dull pain is normal and to be expected. So, it may be easier to start with high heel sandals (or high heel boots, which are normally recommended to be one-full size larger than high heel shoes).

Also, while some people have no problem doing it, others may have to "break the barrier". They may need to fall asleep, while wearing high heels in order to realize that they can do it as well.

I was told that it may be necessary for these people to be brave and continue wearing the high heels until they fell asleep. If they don't fall asleep the first night, then probably on the second night and definitely, by the third night. Furthermore, it is extremely important to continue for another 21 consecutive nights afterwards. Supposedly, it takes 21 consecutive days/nights to form a "habit" of sleeping while wearing high heels (or any other habit in general). Otherwise, these kind of people tend to quit. (NOTE: I do NOT know if any of this is true. So, I do NOT recommend anyone to try this. However, it does seem to be something that might work.)


I am curious as to what you mean: "i can't watch tv with them."???


J.J. - 11 Jan 2003

Hi J.J

I can't watch Tv with my shoes on... :) . when i watch tv i always put my foot on the sofa.


I.B. - 13 Jan 2003

Dear Ilse,

<< as you recommanded, i wear very comfort boots with tight ankles. >>

Please beware that I have never recommended anything for you or anyone else to do. I have only provided information and pointed out some options that are available.

As I have often mentioned, I do not want to encourage or discourage anyone from doing anything in regards to wearing high heels. So, I only provide information and make no recommendations.

Also, as I have often stated, you should research and verify anything I have written that is of interest to you. Then, you can draw your own conclusions and make your own recommendations.

<< so for a month now ( from the 1.12.02) i am wearing my 4 inch heels for 12 hours every day. include sunday. what do you think, it's enough to make me permanent high heeled woman of 4 inch heels. >>

84 hours a week (or 12 hours a day, 7 seven days) is a lot of hours. If you continue, then I think that your calf muscles and Achilles tendons will eventually become permanently shortened for 4 inch high heels.

Like the street-walking prostitutes, it will probably take about 5, 10 or 15 years. It could also happen in less time or take more time. It depends on how often you stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendons, how much you walk and the other factors that are mentioned in my book.

<< maybe i can do any exercise or something else, to make it faster ? >>

Once again, you ask for other ways or an exercise to permanently shorten your calf muscles and Achilles tendons for 4 inch heels "faster". As I already mentioned, all of the other ways (especially Susan's) that I know of are "too dangerous". I do not want you to get hurt.

If you still really want to know, then you must ask Susan or travel into the world of bizarre bondage yourself. That is where those methods emanate or come from.

Also, as described in my book, all of the consequences (or disadvantages) with permanent shortening far outweigh all of the benefits (or advantages). So, I definitely would not want to have permanently shortened calf muscles and Achilles tendons myself, not even for one inch heels.

There is nothing more that I can say about this topic and have to end this discussion at this point. Thank you very much for your emails and buying my book.

Good luck with whatever you decide on doing. Take care of yourself, especially your legs and feet.

J.J. - January 20, 2003

P.S. - I am forwarding Susan's direct email address to you separately. She has given me permission to do so.

P.S. #2 (February 15, 2003) - After exchanging more emails with Susan, I have very strong doubts about her story. Susan wrote to me that she sent pictures of herself to one of the participants on Jenny's Message Board.

However, this person can not be verified. Furthermore, Susan can not provide me with a single picture of her training equipment and her ankles and feet.

P.S. - #3 (December 16, 2005) - A few days ago, I was surfing the Internet and found an archived copy of Jenny's web site. Some adult-related web site company has resurrected an old copy of Jenny's web site, that was hosted by Netdump and contains a 1998 version of Connie's (or Susan's) story. The story describes at least two specific things that Susan did to become a permanent 4-inch high heeled woman faster.

[Note that I did not read Susan's story until after my book was published in October 2000 and I was contacted by Jenny in December 2000. I first learned about temporary and permanent shortened Achilles tendons and/or calf muscles from Marcia (in my book) and then, found authoritative confirmation in the medical reference textbook titled "The Foot Doctor" by Glenn Copeland, D.P.M (Macmillan 1996).]

Once again, note that the activities Susan and her husband did fit within the parameters of BDSM activities and even, bizarre bondage. (I know that Susan disagrees with this because she feels that it was all her idea, but it does not matter who came up with the ideas.) There are real BDSM groups and couples engaged in hard or heavy BDSM activities including wearing high heels 24x7, all or most of the time. Each of these BDSM groups and couples usually have male master(s), who like high heels (especially, ultra-high heels) very much, and female (including male-to-female transsexual) submissive(s), who want punishment and/or to please their master at any cost.

Also, in regards to BDSM, I once heard about a BDSM master who mentioned that wearing high heels 24x7 involved "cramps". However, I have never heard of cramps from anyone else involved in wearing high heels 24x7, all or most of the time. This includes Marcia and all of the girls and women that she spoke about. Also, Spook (who wore ballet boots and/or at least 5-inch high heels 24x7 according to her web site in 2001) did not mention anything about cramps. This includes everyone, except Susan.

To the best of my recollection, I read something that Susan wrote either in a later version of "Connie's Story" or in an entry on Jenny's High Heel Stiletto Forum about having painful cramps and putting lineament(?) and/or compresses(?) on her calf muscles (during the time she was working on shortening her Achilles tendons). However, her cramps may have been a direct result of her bizarre training activities.

So, I believe that while a few of these individuals may get cramps, most of these individuals do not. Also, many people who never wear high heels get leg cramps.

The URL for the archived copy of Connie's (or Susan's) story is netdump.com/users/jenny/stories.htm#life, but BEWARE of adult-related ads. Also, as I previously mentioned, I do not recommend anyone to do the bizarre things that Susan claimed to do (or similar bizarre activities) as they may cause permanent numbness and/or limp in one or both legs and/or blood clot(s), which (in turn) can lead to a fatal stroke. Susan has not provided any evidence at all. However, if Susan's story is true, then Susan may have limited her bizarre activities to very short periods of time to be safe and/or Susan was very lucky to avoid serious injury.

I am just trying to document everything that is significant in regards to wearing high heels. Remember that the title of my book and this web site is "ALL About Wearing High Heels". In case Susan really did all of the things that she claimed to do with the great results that she also claimed, then I feel that it should be documented in detail and shared with others, who may be interested. (Why have others reinvent the wheel and possibly, fail with serious injuries?)


Dear JJ,

I found your site while researching ankle equinus, and found your information very interesting. I had no idea people would want to permanently shorten their calf muscles and tendons in order to wear high heels....

If you ever hear from people who would like to lengthen their achilles tendons and calf muscles, a great resource for them is to try Rolfing. They can find a Certified RolferÒ by going to the Rolf Institute web site at www.rolf.org , or a Rolf Practitioner at the Guild for Structural Integration web site at www.rolfguild.org . I am a Certified Rolfer and have been working with a client who has had ankle equinus since birth. At first she was misdiagnosed with cerebral palsy; then saw many doctors for several years to find out about correcting the ankle equinus. She did not want surgery and decided to live with the condition, which was very painful and contributed to various health problems.

She is now an adult and has had 8 Rolfing sessions with me. With each session, her soft tissue softens and lengthens noticeably, and her ability to walk improves each week. Her heels now rest completely on the floor when she stands, and her walk is almost the heel-toe motion that is ideal for barefoot walking, and is also the most beneficial motion for supporting structural alignment in the whole body. She is slowly improving her balance and posture, and experiencing much less pain, as her body comes into alignment over her "new feet".

Rolfing is a soft-tissue technique with the goal of improving the alignment and balance of the body. Anyone who has misalignment in one part of the body, espcially something as serious as ankle equinus, would do best to address the entire body as part of their re-alignment. Rolfing is the most direct, specific, and effective method of doing exactly that. It helps to reduce or eliminate chronic pain and dysfunction due to misalignment, tight tissue, old injuries & surgeries, etc.

I would like to know more about the "manual manipulation" that you listed as an alternative to surgery. Is it practiced by physical therapists, or some other type of practitioner?

Thanks very much,

L.B. - 24 Jun 2004

Dear Laura,

Thank you for writing.

I heard of Rolfing before, but thought that it was just a special type of massage. I just did some research on Rolfing and agree with you that Rolfing may be of interest for those with shortened calf muscles and Achilles tendons . However, those with "permanent" shortening (or whose heels have not touched the ground for many years) should probably approach Rolfing with a bit of caution.

I do not mean to be a skeptic, but you should recall that I wrote: "it can be a bad idea for those who have permanently shortened calf muscles and Achilles tendons for a long time, especially decades, to come back down to flats. One of the saddest things that Marcia (in my book) told me was that some women who get surgery to lengthen their calf muscle and/or Achilles tendon end up with all kinds of problems and pain throughout their lower bodies and hobble around for the rest of their lives.

After surgery, the parts of the lower body that were fully adapted to high heels can become weakened, sensitive and prone to problems and pain. This include the bent toes, that must get flattened back out for flat-heeled shoes."

Perhaps, further explanation may help. According to Harper's Index, the average increase in the protrusion of a woman's buttocks when she wears high heels is 25%. It is generally agreed that this "high heel look" makes a woman look more sexy and beautiful. A change can be seen in the alignment of her entire lower body, particularly in the lower back, hips, knees, ankles and feet.

In cases of women who have acquired ankle equinus from wearing high heels and have "permanently" shortened calf muscles and Achilles tendons for many years, this altered "high heel" alignment of their entire lower bodies is permanent or normal for them. The alignment of their entire lower bodies is that which is normally associated with the "high heel look" from the lower backs and hips down to the high foot arches and "high heel balls-of-feet". In other words, when these women stand up barefoot or without shoes, their bodies look the same as they do when wearing high heels.

Besides the calf (gastrocnemius and soleal) muscles and Achilles tendons that affect the flexibility and appearance of the ankles, many other muscles and tendons in the lower body (from the lower back down to the feet) can be affected. These other muscles and tendons can also become altered in size and shape permanently to fit the new "high heel" alignment of the entire lower body, to support the alignment and give the alignment permanency. The longer (duration) the person has "permanent" ankle equinus, the greater the likelihood that this is the case.

Also, you can read what podiatrist Dr. Jody Politz was quoted as saying in the Las Vegas SUN newspaper http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/2000/feb/11/509835722.html . She said "I keep a lot of women permanently in heels. It's when they go into flats that they have problems."

Although some people may question Dr. Politz's method, it is probably the most wise thing to do for those who had permanently shortened calf muscles and Achilles tendons for a long time (especially, decades). You can also read more about this in my book.

Rolfing seems like a much better alternative to Achilles tendon lengthening surgery. Perhaps, Rolfing can help many or most individuals, but it might also lead some individuals down the same problem-prone path that Achilles tendon lengthening surgery has. In which case, staying in heels (as high as needed) would clearly be better.

Again, I do not mean to be skeptical or pessimistic. I simply do not know if Rolfing can reverse the effects of long-term ankle equinus with good long-term results.

Affected individuals will need to decide on Rolfing for themselves. When treating these cases, the Rolfer should be sure to check the normal alignment of the entire lower body and treat all body parts (not just the calf muscles and Achilles tendons) that are needed. However, I do not know if the entire lower body, especially the hips, knees and feet (along with the calf muscles and Achilles tendons) can be Rolfed successfully.

Affected individuals who are treated with Rolfing may also want to gently massage their feet, knees and hips for about a minute each, every morning and every night. That is what I do as a possible precautionary measure, if I was one of these individuals. These are critical structural areas of the body that may be altered in long term cases of ankle equinus.
"Manual manipulation" was developed by a podiatrist for podiatrists to use. It involves manipulating the fibula bone in each leg (using the doctor's hands) and seems like something chiropractors might also be capable and interested in doing. The procedure has mixed results. It works for some cases, but not for others.

J.J. - July 30, 2004

... When I was in my late 20s one podiatrist diagnosed me as having equinus feet and wanted to prescribe orthotics which I could not afford at the time. I did get a pair a few years later, and have had orthotics prescribed several times since then. ...

M.O. - 5 Dec 2004


It depends on the amount of shortening. If the shortening is less than one inch, orthotics with heel lifts (up to an extra one-half inch of thickness) may be prescribed.

J.J. - January 30, 2005

Hello. I “googled” and discovered your website. I think I may be a victim of this shortening. I haven’t been able to walk right for several days. I have severe calf soreness in both legs. It feels like I “maxed out” at the gym but only my calves. I didn’t work out though. At all. One day I simply couldn’t stand. Every pair of shoes I have worn for the past four or so years (or even longer) has been heeled. At least 2 inches or more 3 and a half is my max and those boots are not worn often.

It has actually been 5 days of pain. The only thing I can do to help the pain is put on my heels. I have walked flatfoot for 8 hours doing chores and no amount of stretching or warming them up made a difference. It would be nice if you had any information I can use. Does this sound like the shortening you described? I would like some help.

M.C. - 29 Dec 2004

Dear Marcy,

<< Does this sound like the shortening you described? >>

I can NOT diagnose your disease, illness or problems. Please see your podiatrist to get a proper diagnosis and remedy. A podiatrist can test you for "ankle equinus".

J.J. - January 30, 2005


Read your site with interest on the subject of lengthening. Your comments seem to indicate that this procedure is extremely risky. My limited research indicates the same. Do you have any new information in this regard?Specifically, have any new procedures been developed that make a full recovery (with dorsiflexion and near full strength) more probable?

In the alternative, are you aware of any non-surgical procedures that can deal with a long-existant problem? Thanks.

R.B. - 20 Jan 2005

The result of any surgery is always unknown. It is always possible to get a result that is worse than what is anticipated or hoped for. The result of any surgical operation usually depends on the particular case, how well the surgeon did his job and post-recovery efforts.

The only non-surgical procedures are relatively new and include the "Manual Manipulation Technique" and Rolfing. The "Manual Manipulation Technique" was first reported in October 2000. Rolfing was first reported to me by a Certified Rolfer, who got the heels of a lady with "congenital ankle equinus" to touch the ground for the first time, in Florida in July 2004. Both methods seem to be better alternatives to surgery and *might* help cases that have existed for many years.

J.J. - January 30, 2005

Hi I just found your site and was very relived to find out I was not the only person stuck in high heels most of what is written seems to apply to me, I am fit and have no trouble in 3-4 inch heels but as soon as I try to walk in flat shoes trouble starts. 15 mins walking in flat shoes leaves me unable to walk for about three days!! However unlike most cases described on this site I think my problem started when I was a child as I always walked on my tip toes which has carried on up until the present day (im now 22) if I am barefooted. Luckily the pain in my ankles is not very bad at all but my calves are extremely painful.

I desperately want to correct the problem but my doctor say's that as im not in pain if I wear heels he fails to see the problem and offers little help. So please could you tell me
1) if you believe that my problem could be calf shortening even though the problem started when i was a child.
2) how can i make a start in correcting the problem?

H.J. - 28 Apr 2005

Dear Holly,

  1. Based on what you wrote "my problem started when I was a child as I always walked on my tip toes which has carried on up until the present day (im now 22) if I am barefooted.", you probably have "congenital ankle equinus" (or was born with short Achilles tendons and/or calf muscles) and always walked on tip toes since you first started walking. It is unlikely that you developed the problem later on.

    However, it might be possible for a child, who can already walk, to develop a very bad habit of tip-toeing around all of the time. Perhaps, to mimic a cat -or- to walk silently and not be heard?

    Also, note that it is easier to correct "congenital ankle equinus" while the person is still a child, traditionally by calf stretching exercises or surgery. That is because the tendons are still in their growing phase.

  2. Beware that in your case, you can't have it both ways. If you choose to come back down to flats, then you really need to stay in flats and avoid heels (of any height) for the remainder of your life.

    I have already answered your second question in my book and this PROBLEMS web page. I will try to briefly review and summarize because I know that there are other women like you. Last year, I saw another young woman tip-toeing around.

    Until Achilles tendon lengthening surgery was perfected, people with ankle equinus either tip-toed around or wore heels (as high as needed) for life. This has happened to thousands of people (using the most conservative and lowest estimate). So, if you stay in heels for the remainder of your life, you will not be the first person to do so.

    One of the traditional remedies recommended by doctors is "heel lifts" (also referred to as "heel raises"). If the amount of heel height needed is less than one inch, the type of heel lift used is usually an "orthotic" worn inside the shoes. If the amount of heel height needed is one inch or more, then heel lift means "external heels" or shoes with heels as high as needed so that there is no pain.

    Visit these medical web sites:

    KLM Laboratories, Inc. , where podiatrist Keith Gurnick, D.P.M. (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) mentions using "heel lifts" specifically for "ankle equinus", which is permanently shortened Achilles tendons and/or calf muscles.

    and The American College of FOOT ANKLE ORTHOPEDICS MEDICINE (ACFAOM) - HTML or The American College of FOOT ANKLE ORTHOPEDICS MEDICINE (ACFAOM) - PDF NOTE: This web page is in Adobe PDF format. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read this document. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat, you can download a FREE Read-Only Version of it at www.adobe.com   In this document, see page 17 (of 36) where it mentions "The spectrum of treatments for equinus includes heel lifts, shoe modifications, foot orthoses, braces, physical therapy, surgery and similar treatments."

    Again, visit these web sites so that you know that there is truth to what I say. Also, note that "braces" were mentioned. Ankle braces help protect the ankles from injury. This is why I previously mentioned that it is probably better for those with permanently shortened Achilles tendons to wear boots with tight ankles and shoes with ankle straps. These styles of footwear basically do the same job that ankle braces would do with high heel footwear by supporting and protecting the ankles from injury.

    Furthermore, when one has permanently shortened Achilles tendons and/or calf muscles for more than a year or two (especially over 10 years), there are other ligaments throughout the lower body (including the lower back, hips, knees and feet) that can be affected (i.e., they can change in shape). Each and every one of these other ligaments can become weakened, whacked out and prone to problems, after coming back down to flats.

    For example, the person may sometimes feel Earth tremors (or the floor/ground moving), when (instead) her hips and/or knees are slightly (but noticeably) shaking or trembling. In this case, the trembling limbs would not be due to Parkinson's disease.

    You wrote that you have been walking on tip toes since you was a child. If "child" means 12 years old or younger and you are now 22 years old, then it means that you have been like this for over 10 years. If that is the case, then what I just wrote above applies to you.

    I know that you are only 22 years old, but your age should have nothing to do with your decision. A female body only grows until 21 years of age and is over 90% grown by 17 years of age.

    Note that I previously mentioned that there are only two groups of women, street walking prostitutes and BDSM submissives practicing heavy activities, who are prone to becoming stuck in high heels (2.75 inches or higher) at a young age. I did not mention young women with congenital ankle equinus because they usually become stuck wearing low to medium heels (that are 1.0 to 2.5 inches in height).

    In regards to heel height, the degree of shortening (whether its for 1 inch or 7 inch heels) should have nothing to do with the decision either. However, it might be easier to commit oneself to wearing low and medium heels for life rather than high heels for life.

    As always, I prefer not to make any recommendations. All I can say is that if I had ankle equinus for over a year, I would stay in heels (as high as needed so that there is no pain) with no regrets.

    Also, be sure to read the Las Vegas Sun newspaper article (linked to on my NEWS web page). It mentions that the woman podiatrist Jodi Politz, D.P.M. keeps her patients in heels.

    Obviously, giving up flats also means giving up doing things that can only be done while wearing flats. However, there are some "pros" for wearing heels. I documented all of the significant advantages and disadvantages in my book. For example, you can learn tango dancing, in which women normally wear 3 or 3.5 inch high heels, and get all of the exercise and fun that you will ever need.

    Note that almost every living person has some things that they can not do. If you have no trouble in 3-4 inch heels, you should be grateful and thank God for the ability to do. There are many people who wish they could walk in 3-4 inch heels, but are unable to do so.

    However, if you decide to continue wearing heels and give up wearing flats, there are (of course) dangers as well. You really need to be careful whenever wearing heels to avoid accidents, injuries and other foot problems. This was a point that I tried to stress in my book and includes wearing only properly-fitted footwear, in terms of length, width and toe box.

    Of course, it is your body and your choice to come back down to flats. I would understand and respect your decision to do so and wish you the best of luck. The main choices are:

    • Calf Muscle Stretching Exercises (also referred to as "Heel Cord Stretching" and "Gastro-Soleal Stretching")

      Some health professionals do not distinguish between the varying degrees of shortened Achilles tendons and/or calf muscles (probably, due to ignorance) and recommend calf muscles stretching exercises. However, beware that Calf muscle stretching exercises work for Stage 1 - Temporary Shortening only.

      Beware of the danger of over-stretching and tearing (or rupturing) one of the Achilles tendons (either fully or partially), while doing calf muscle stretching exercises. Partial tears can be in the form of tiny micro-tears that do not prevent a person from walking, but can hurt and sting badly at times.

      This can happen and probably, happens to many people every year. Then, they go back to their podiatrist and are diagnosed with "Achilles tendonitis" (or inflammation of the Achilles tendon), which is the number one foot problem. Furthermore, they end up going to their podiatrist on a regular monthly (or biweekly or weekly) basis, paying a substantial monetary fee each time.

      So, if you decide to do these exercises, then it probably wise to do so under the careful supervision of a good physical therapist.

    • Manual Manipulation

      You can ask a podiatrist to try the relatively new technique called "Manual Manipulation" to come back down to flats. (Note that I do not know what the long term results of this treatment has been.)

    • Rolfing

      You can visit a Certified Rolfer to try Rolfing to come back down to flats. (Consult with Laura Barnes of Village Rolfer in Florida. I have never been able to get any follow-up information regarding her patient, who had congenital ankle equinus. However, this treatment is most interesting. Laura was able to do the same the job that surgery does WITHOUT LEAVING ANY SCARS and the shape of the Achilles tendon in each leg probably looks better than ones that are cut up. Moreover, the cost and time needed for treatment and recovery would probably be less as well.)

    • Achilles Tendon Lengthening Surgery

      You can ask a Board-Certified and reputable foot and ankle surgeon to perform Achilles tendon lengthening surgery to come back down to flats. (This procedure is the most drastic and risky one.)

If I had ankle equinus for over a year and chose to come back down to flats, I would try Manual Manipulation first because it seems to involve just one treatment. If Manual Manipulation failed, I would try Rolfing next. I would avoid Achilles tendon lengthening surgery, until I was unable to walk at all and all other options failed.

Also, after coming back down to flats, I would try to develop the habit of (carefully) doing daily calf muscle stretching exercises, general isometric exercises and yoga. Furthermore, I would try to go easy on the legs and avoid jogging, running, martial arts and other sports activities because of the weakened ligaments in the lower body.

J.J. - May 15, 2005


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All About Wearing High Heels

This page was last edited on December 17, 2005.
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