Bunions, calluses, ingrown toenails, blisters, and even neuromas — the list of problems caused by high heels is extensive. The solution is so simple it’s almost laughable: Wear sensible shoes. But let’s be honest, women aren’t going to give up sexy stilettos. Even as one generation realizes the benefits of function over fashion, a whole new generation finds true love in their first pair of patent leather heels.

Instead of lecturing your client on the evils of heels, use your influence to educate her on the importance of foot health and the role regular pedicures play in easing her pain and preventing problems. The conversation could go something like this:

You: I noticed you’re wearing heels today. Do you wear them regularly?

Client: Oh, yes. I love them.

You: I love them, too! But I see a lot of clients with foot problems because their shoes don’t fit them correctly.

You actually have a couple of broken blisters on the tops of your toes and a callus on the underside of your foot. I’m going to remove some of that hardened skin with a file and callus remover. In the future, let’s keep you on a monthly pedicure schedule to make sure we keep your feet healthy.

Client: I hate that hard skin, but I guess it’s just an inevitable side effect of the shoes.

You: Well, you might want to look at shoes that aren’t so narrow at the toe or that have a reduced angle in the heel. When our heels are elevated over a couple of inches, we end up walking on the balls of our feet rather than walking with a natural gait from heel to toe. That unnatural movement puts pressure on our feet and toes and can cause a number of problems, including ingrown toenails.

Client: Oh, I haven’t had ingrown toenails, but I have had bruised toenails. But you know what they say: That’s the price of beauty!

You: Yes, that’s what they say — but it really doesn’t have to be that way. It’s so important to keep our feet healthy. Wearing the wrong shoes can cause serious problems, like neuromas, which are pinched nerves. Usually they appear between the third and fourth toe and they can be very painful. Of course, heels that crowd the toes or put too much pressure on the balls of the feet can also cause bunions. Both of these conditions can eventually lead to the need for surgery.

Client: I know, but I love heels and I’m going to keep wearing them.

You: I get it and many of my other clients feel the same way. Your best bet is to alternate your shoes so that sometimes you wear roomy, flat shoes with a supportive arch and other days you wear heels. Think of days you wear comfortable flats as recovery days for your feet. The other thing to do, as I recommended earlier, is to come in regularly for pedicures. The foot soak and massage will be therapeutic on your feet and legs; plus, I’ll be able to care for any rough patches of skin I find. Just as important, you’ll know your toenails will be kept short, but not so short you risk an ingrown toenail.

I’d also recommend at-home foot care. Soak your feet a few nights a week using a product that contains magnesium, such as Epsom salt. Magnesium helps relieve pain, but also aids in repairing damaged skin. Also, stretch your Achilles and calf muscles to lengthen them. You can stand at the edge of a step and raise and lower your heels, or even do a few “downward dogs.”


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