Can You Guess Why Jackie Kennedy Wore Shoe Lifts?

Beneath those pointy heels, Jackie Kennedy secretly wore lifts to correct a leg length disparityJacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis has long been revered as a fashion icon, but her former stylist has just revealed one of the first lady’s major style secrets: she wore lifts in her shoes!

According to Kathy McKeon, who worked for Ms. Onassis from 1964-1977, the first lady almost always wore lifts in her shoes because one of her legs was a quarter inch shorter than the other!

This condition, known as a leg length discrepancy, is quite common (it affects about 70 % of the general population), and actually can cause quite a bit of leg, foot and back pain, if not treated appropriately.

Symptoms of Leg Length Discrepancy
If you are concerned about LLD, here are some specific symptoms to look out for: 

  • Lower back pain
  • Hip, knee, or foot pain
  • Limping
  • Difficulty balancing while you walk
  • The sensation that you're always leaning in one direction
  • Walking or physical activity leaves you feeling tired
  • Frequent injuries to your lower back or limbs with no obvious cause
  • Bending over or extended standing periods leads to discomfort

My own daughter has struggled with leg length discrepancy, and has first-hand experience with the aches and pains that go along with the very-common condition. (Check out the embedded video for more information about how we handled her specific LLD side effects, plus a helpful reminder about what happens when you stop following your doctor's prescribed treatment plan!) 

While Jackie O corrected her imbalance by fastening a small lift to the heel of the shoe on her shorter leg, with my daughter and with patients in my Houston podiatry practice, I've provide a different solution to this problem: custom orthotics.    

Of course, this treatment option is preferable for several reasons. First and foremost, you can insert orthotics into any shoe, saving you the trouble of doctoring every pair you own—something that’s time consuming, expensive and really only an option for people with staff and budgets comparable to Jackie Kennedy’s.

Additionally, custom orthotics can help manage other foot concerns while they work on the impacts of leg imbalances:  they can help improve your stride’s efficiency, offer support to people with low or no arches, and keep conditions like bunions and hammertoes from progressing.

Custom orthotics can also be combined with lifts like Ms. Kennedy's if length discrepancies are extreme. In cases like these, 

As we discussed, leg imbalances are extremely common: like Jackie Kennedy, John F Kennedy apparently also had a leg imbalance that caused him devastating back pain. If you’re experiencing pain when you walk and suspect an imbalance may be causing your problem, it’s important to seek help from your physician. With one simple, non-invasive treatment, you’ll be back to walking evenly and comfortably! 

 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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