A woman with tiny size two feet has finally learned to wear high heels – after taking lessons in how to WALK.
Angela Belassie, 36, had resigned herself to a life of flat footwear because she walked “like John Wayne” in high heels and would frequently topple over.
But she then underwent a course of treatment with clinical orthologist Martin Bell, who specialises in correcting postural problems.
After analysing her gait and posture on a special ‘runway’, he prescribed a series of exercises to strengthen her core muscles and correct her stride.
Now Angela, who runs her own PR company, is proudly strutting around in five-inch stilettos.
She said: “Beforehand my walk was clunky and not very elegant, but after the sessions it was amazing, my husband noticed the difference straight away.
“I have always wanted to wear heels, especially when I went to weddings.
“Now I wear heels more frequently and even on a daily occurrence, where as before it was special occasions only.”
Angela, from Stapleton, Bristol, has never been able to find suitable shoes and if she did wear heels they were too big and had to be padded out.
However, the tiny length of her feet meant she struggled to balance.
“At a size two, I struggled to find a pair of shoes to fit me or the weddings I had to go to – in one shop alone I tried on 10 pairs,” she said.
“In the end, I settled for a pair of plain black sling backs, with both toe and heel stoppers. Their simple style suited each outfit I wore.
“Whereas I may have looked the part, I certainly didn’t walk it.
“My gait was not that dissimilar to John Wayne. And on my own wedding day I was not so much walked up the aisle, as supported along the way.
“I had resigned myself to a life in flat shoes, with heels only making a very brief outing only at weddings, before changing into comfy shoes as soon as possible.”
Angela first met Martin at a networking event in Bristol where he suggested she come along for some help.
Martin has worked with Olympians and Paralympians to help overcome recurring injuries and improve their performance.
The clinical orthotist has already helped hundreds of women by teaching them to stand and use their leg muscles properly and “fight” what their body has become used to.
His unique course – ‘Perfectly Poised’ – takes place in his offices in the posh suburb of Clifton, Bristol.
It involves filming his client walking in her heels and then playing back the footage to analyse her walk.
He examines the way in which each girl uses their legs and back when walking, picking out subtle hints with their posture that could help alleviate their pain.
He then gives them exercises to help strengthen any weak muscles and improve their walk.
“I’d been given exercises by a physiotherapist in the past to treat runner’s knee,” Angela said.
“Back then I preferred to cut short my running days rather than carry them out but this time I was spurred on by vanity and the desire to wear such pretty shoes.
“To my mind not only gave me the appearance of being taller, but also slimmer.
“One of Martin’s workouts included the ‘dog poo shuffle’, which involved rubbing my foot on the floor with force as if cleaning mess off it.
“My bemused husband also looked on as I walked past him on my tiptoes – backwards.
“But I slowly developed the ‘tightrope walk’ and moved more elegantly as a result.
“Following my final session, Martin played the before and after video and I was amazed by the difference.”
Angela was also put in touch with Tom Reader, who set up Pretty Small Shoes to offer fashionable footwear starting from a child’s size 13.
His partner Jiyeon Yeom, 41, also just a size two, was the inspiration behind the business.
Tom said: “The percentage of women with small size feet, which are below size three, is therefore now very low and at around just two to three per cent of adults.
“Mainstream manufacturers do not find it economically viable to make shoes in those sizes and those who do still use styles which have hardly changed since the 1990s.”