Can I wear heels after a broken ankle? This was one of the questions on my mind during my broken ankle rehab after a trimalleolar fracture.
Wanting to walk in high heels is not a matter of vanity. It’s the desire to be made whole again and is an important milestone on the path to full recovery.
The answer to that question is yes. But it requires training, just like learning to walk again required training. Because the ankle will wobble and the foot will hurt from bearing weight at different angles. And you’re going to be limping again, not a cute look in high heels.
The secret to walking in high heels post accident
A bit before the second anniversary of the accident that occurred in September 2015, I decided it was high time to get back into my heels. I had already gotten used to wearing stable shoes with higher heels such as my flat boots with 1 inch heels and my cowboy boots with 3 inch heels. But it’s a whole other thing trying to walk in skinny-heeled shoes that I wore prior to the accident.
The first time I put them on I felt like I was teetering on top of a very tall ladder. Actual height: 3½ inches. Of course my right foot was fine but the left one was hanging on for dear life. Once again it was like my left foot was a separate entity from the rest of my body.
Taking that first step was crazy for a few reasons:
I had to hang on to the wall
I was limping
So what did I do? I got out my secret weapon…the crutch that helped me learn to walk without limping. Yes friends, I was walking around the house using a crutch wearing high heels. But you know what, it worked!
Soon the crutch was back in the closet and I was able to wear my tallest, skinniest pre-accident heels out in public. This triumphant moment happened on October 27, 2017!
High heel training program after a broken ankle
Below is an outline of the training program I created for myself to transition into high heels, followed by detailed explanations:
- Out with the old shoes
- In with the new shoes
- Sit, stand, walk around the house
- Don’t limp!
- Walk around the yard
- Take them for a test drive
Out with the old shoes
I decided to get rid of all my platform shoes. I love platform shoes and I had some really cute ones but I’ve always known they were unstable. They rock and it’s easy to fall off of them (hence, the broken ankle).
I even got rid of my wedge shoes because that solid bottom sole also feels a bit unstable compared to shoes with a separate heel and more flexible sole.
That left me with a few slides and sandals of varying heights and heel widths.
In with the new shoes
I got a few pairs of block-heeled and chunkier-heeled shoes. Fortunately, they’re in style once more but I’ve always thought they were cute.
I recommend getting shoes with varying heel heights (1½, 2, 2½, 3, 3½ inches). My maximum is 3½ inches. Training involves working your way up from the lowest to the highest, and from chunky to skinny heels.
Stability and proper fit are important. Pumps, boots and shoes with straps are the most stable.
Make sure the soles aren’t slippery. If they are, scuff them up with a little sandpaper because the last thing we want is to fall again.
Sit, stand, walk around the house
Begin high heel training with the shortest, chunkiest heels and progress to the skinniest, tallest ones.
Slip on a pair and spend some time just sitting with them on, about ten minutes or so. Then stand up in them. That’s not going to feel too great but you need to get used to them gradually. Take a few steps if you can. Stop and try it again the next day but increase the walking time.
My house has carpet and tile, and I worked up to taking a few laps around the house, getting used to walking on different surfaces. I would try to go ten laps.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of walking correctly. As I said earlier, I needed to rely on a crutch while I was learning to walk properly in high heels. The crutch goes on your good side to support your bad foot during a step.
The goal is to have a measured gait, taking the same amount of time with each step.
When I mastered walking around the house properly without a crutch, I moved on to the next challenge, walking in the backyard.
Walk around the yard
Now it’s time to strut your stuff outside. My backyard is mostly concrete and I would do about ten laps around the yard in my heels. I did this for a few days before I felt ready to move on to the next undertaking, going out in public.
Take them for a test drive
After you’ve got walking in the backyard down pat, it’s time to wear your high heels out in real life. Go on a short errand or over to a friend’s house, some place where there’s minimum walking. Bring a pair of flats or your magic shoes in case your feet poop out on you.
Gradually you can go for longer trips, maybe even try a little dancing. Keep backup shoes on hand until you no longer need them.
Congratulations! You have now graduated to wearing high heels with confidence!