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Dealing with Scoliosis: The Foot Chronicles

From the very moment I was diagnosed with scoliosis (back in high school) two things were knocked into my head. One, that I should get used to the constant pain and inability to stand straight, and two, that I should forget about wearing high heels. It really didn’t bother me much, not being able to wear heels, and as I’ve always been a “tall girl” and was going through a sort of tomboyish phase (can’t be a real tomboy if you’re not sporty), I turned my attention to sneakers. 

I remember my mom’s constant battles to get me to wear flat granny shoes (which I considered to be school marmish) and out of the jeans, baggy shirts and sneakers combo.  Even when she could get me into a sexy spaghetti top, I’d pull on a pair of baggy jeans and one of my brothers’ or dad’s long sleeved shirts to cover the top.  My entire university education was spent battling my mother on what to wear (as a proper young lady).

Eventually, I hit a phase where I said “screw you” to my orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors/ physiotherapists. I’d finally reached the point when my feminine instincts rolled in and I wanted to look as glamorous as the next chic. So I began my heel collection. It’s nothing much, I assure you and consists mainly of peep toe pumps and sandals. It didn’t take long for me to realise one thing though, the docs and all were right: I can’t wear my gorgeous heels for too long or I end up spending days laid out in bed with heating pads and liniment to keep me company. My solution? Carrying around a pair of flat slippers or in recent years, comfortable flats.

No not these

You know, like these? They’re beautiful and not marmish at all!

These are so comfy!  And fit easily under my seat in the car (or in my handbag) and on those days where I can’t deal with the woes of a high heel but have one problem.  Unlike my sneakers where I wear socks which absorb any sweat off my feet (I live in Africa, people), my flats are impossible to wear stockings with. They are simply cut too low to accommodate them. What makes it worse is, they do not come with removable inlays.  As embarrassing as this is to confess, my ultra comfortable shoes have plagued me with one problem.

I can’t clean the bloody things!!!

There.  I’ve said it. I have found it impossible to care for my flats.  I’m not the only one with this problem.  Yes, I’ve aired them  like I air my sneakers but they do not smell like new shoes anymore.  I am told the slightly vinegar-ish smell is normal for leather shoes but I refuse to wear shoes that I cannot clean!!! My feet smell absolutely fine. They smell nothing like the shoes do.  The second my feet are out of them, they smell fine.  I’ve had a shoe maker remove the insoles so I could scrub them without ruining the shoes.  I have to agree that the smell isn’t bad but the thing is I’ve never had this problem with sneakers! To me, it’s simple.  Shoes are shoes. Canvas may breathe differently from leather but I simply refuse to accept something that isn’t natural to me, especially when none of my leather heels have this effect.

So I set out to do two things.  Learn how to avoid or minimize my back pain when wearing heels and also how to take care of my troublesome flats. I discovered the following:

  1. Ultra Low Foot liners by Minicci 
  2. The Proper Way to Walk in Heels 
  3. How to take care of flats the Daixy way.

I adore the foot liners.  They are low enough that they do not show when I put on my flats and  thick enough to absorb any moisture that my feet my produce.  Even better, they are machine washable for those days when I’m feeling too lazy to do anything by hand.

I also discovered that you can take away the tomboyish clothes but you can’t take away the walk.  I’m practicing in my heels every evening now for fifteen minutes a day.  Hopefully I’ll be a pro soon and quit injuring myself every time I wear my stilettos.

Finally, I have devised a way to deal with my need to have my shoes smelling like roses.  First, of course was removing the cloth lined inlays from the shoes so I could clean them.  Then I discovered odour controlling inlays that could go into the shoes, on top of the inbuilt ones. I refuse to use deodorants (why mask a smell?  I always say to attack the problem head on) and as I’ve become a bit of a home remedy junkie, I decided to find something in my home which would work as well as the charcoal inserts suggested by a friend in the USA. My solution works well with the fact that I like to clean my inlays and have thus ripped them out.  My solution?  Baking soda!  Every time I take off my flats now, I toss in a teaspoon of baking soda and shake it about.  I leave it in there when I dry them in the sun and pour it out when I’m ready to wear the shoes.  Just tap gently and it all pours out.  I wipe the insides of the shoes with a cloth and slip in my stockinged feet and away I go.  Comfort, Pain-free and absolutely sure all moisture is taken care off.

It’s been a strange journey, finding a way to deal with scoliosis.  The teasing all through primary and high school, the awkwardness of growing into my body and finally finding a “me” I’m comfortable with, and finding a way to look and feel beautiful without sacrificing my health and comfort.  I believe I’ve reached my zen foot-wise.  Now it’s down to proper exercise and diet to keep my weight stable and myself pain free.

What’s your story with shoe care or walking in heels?  Is there anyone else out there with back pain who dares to wear heels?





  1. In my honest opinion, you look perfectly fine and your scoliosis is not even close to being noticeable. The most important is being comfortable with yourself and I am glad you are. The exercise and the shoe care, I like.
    Well done on another well written piece.


    February 14, 2012
  2. thx for sharing this with us. I don’t seriously think this makes you an alien–and if it does: all the better!! What’s life without being different? Both of my feet have been operated on. Back in Belgium, I developed a serious case of flat feet and had to have them done (not simultaneously!). Surgery has helped me maintain a relatively pain-free life, but anytime I put on a little weight, I start feeling the pain (which is good in fact in naturally helping me cut the weight!!!) in my feet.

    My brother had flat feet too–but never to the degree of the excruciating pain I had some 20/22 yrs ago…:-(

    This does no t make you any LESS of a woman, Daixy — as you well know!;-) It’s a cross you appear to wear very well.

    Nice post!;-) btw, love the website. Way to go!!

    March 13, 2012
  3. @ D. I think the issue is the teasing as a kid. In my mind, it’s like “how can people not notice?”. It may be that adults have more important things to think about than whether or not that girl walks with a limp. For that, I’m grateful.

    March 13, 2012
  4. @ Edward. lol glad I could add to your vocabulary

    March 13, 2012
  5. @ekb-jr, WOW! Like wow! (hug) So good to hear you’re doing better.

    I’ve had people tell me this, but I guess it goes down better when it’s from someone who knows at least a little bit of what you’re going through.

    Thank you for the kind words and the encouragement. It means oodles! 🙂

    PS. I’m looking for a gym mate

    March 13, 2012

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