Shoes can affect your life, from finding a pair that makes you smile to wearing a comfortable pair that takes your for miles. And occasionally a pair of shoes can have an amazing effect and transform a life. 

When customer Teresa Jolley contacted us through social media to tell us about how she was planning to dance for the first time after years of foot pain, we wanted to find out more. Here’s her story, in her own words …. 

I have a severe, but not obvious, congenital problem with my feet.  It is a kind of mild form of club foot, but because my joints also happen to be very mobile, it was hard for healthcare professionals to identify.

In 1997 aged 19, I was suffering severe musculoskeletal pain through my entire body but had no idea why.  I started to see chiropractors, but they were bemused by the level of pain and stiffness I suffered given no obvious cause.   After 4 years of this intense chronic pain, which led to the classic symptoms of ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I was determined not to allow this mysterious illness to control my life any more.  In 2001 aged 23, after seeing an X-ray of my twisted back and unlevel hips, I was told  my only option was to live with the pain and adapt my life to accept it.  I refused!  I figured that as no-one else knew why I was suffering, I would find out and cure myself instead.  And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

“I really wanted to dance”

In my mind’s eye I wanted to be fit, happy, healthy, flexible and be able to lead an active life free of pain.  I wanted to be feminine and wear dresses (which to me also meant heeled shoes and sandals) and I also really wanted to dance.

My research and persistence to uncover the cause of my pain put me in contact with a very inspirational practitioner Dr. Cherye Roche (The Gait Doctor, New Zealand).  She is an international figure in biomechanics and musculoskeletal conditions, and has helped me enormously to understand, validate and control the root cause of my pain.

I have what is technically termed a forefoot and rearfoot varus, meaning my feet are attached to my legs at an angle, and with every step my feet roll inward and downward, causing my arches to flatten and the bunions to form.  This excessive internal rotation continues all the way up through the body stressing the tibia, knees, and unleveling the hips, back, shoulders, jaw and head.  The constant soft tissue adaption to compensate is what caused the chronic pain.  In turn the chronic pain had caused adrenal exhaustion and the onset of ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

“I can control it by wearing custom orthotics”

Working with Dr. Roche I realised this foot problem is very common, but my case is particularly severe, accounting for why I suffered so much at a young age.   I was born with this, and I have it for life, but I can control it by wearing custom orthotics designed to optimise the motion in my feet, allowing the rest of my body to heal.

Understanding the cause behind my pain and illness, and realising that it was a very common problem, I could see that many others were also suffering needlessly.  I created my organisation Root2Being in 2005 to share what I had learnt, and to inspire others, both practitioners and patients, to improve their health and wellbeing.

Teresa Jolley - photo taken by Ion Mates.

Heeled shoes can be a challenge, but Teresa has found a pair to transform her life. (Photo courtesy of Ion Mates)

Since 2002 when I realised I could use custom orthotics to control my feet and let the rest of my body heal, I’ve been on a mission to fulfil my dreams of wearing heeled shoes, and to dance.

Heeled shoes are a challenge for several reasons:
1) biomechanically they throw you out of alignment, so the heels can’t be too high
2) I’m very unsteady on my feet, so the heels must be stable
3) I need some form of strap to hold the shoes on, because my feet are so flexible
4) my orthotic prescription is strong, meaning the orthotics are very thick, and don’t fit into normal off the shelf shoes
5) I am a size 9!!

“We’ve created a waterproof version I can wear in wetsuit boots” 

Working with a brilliant podiatrist Jack Loveday, we’ve spent the last few years experimenting with different orthotic designs to get them as accurate and thin as possible.  The latest incarnation are fabulous; carbon fibre shell to give the rigidity, intrinsic posting to avoid thick heel wedges, cushioning, and a metatarsal pad under the big toe.  (We’ve also created a waterproof version that I can wear in wetsuit boots so I can body board, and hopefully also one day when I’m strong enough also surf and windsurf!!).

“When I tried on Bridgette … I realised I’d finally hit the jackpot after 13 years”

Bridgette Satin Nickel-LE SideVivienne Plum-LS SideHotter shoes have thankfully taken care of everything else!  That’s why when I tried on the Bridgette shoes earlier this year, I realised I’d finally hit the jackpot after 13 years.  I’ve had the most amazing birthday this year buying the types of dresses that I’ve always dreamed of being able to wear.

Then, when I spotted the Vivienne style, with the same heel height as Bridgette, but more dance shoe in style, I realised my dance dream was now also possible.  I have lost count of the number of times I watched Dirty Dancing as a teenager, and it’s obviously had a profound effect!!  Now I am finally able to learn to dance, and for me this isn’t just a case of a few disco moves; it’s much more Strictly Come Dancing!

Dresses and heeled shoes are fairly easy to pull off, but the dancing is a whole other ball game.  Because of the musculoskeletal patterning my body has had, I will need to do a lot of work on muscle tone, posture and balance, and will need a great teacher, podiatrist and sports massage therapist on hand through the process.  Yes I want to do it because I enjoy it, but it has to be beautiful to watch, and done in a way that helps me heal and tone up too; quite a challenge but definitely one I’m ready for!!

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Our designers put a lot of care and attention into creating footwear that has special comfort features, so you can rest assured that every pair you buy will have the ultimate comfort fit. From wiggle room for toes and removable insoles to lots of support and cushioning, there’s a myriad of hidden detail in every pair to liberate your feet and make our shoes the most comfortable you’ll ever wear. However, amongst all our lovely shoes there are more than 50 styles which go over and above these comfort credentials and pass all 11 stringent criteria from the Healthy Footwear Guide – you’ll find them on our website, our stores and in our catalogue displaying the Healthy Footwear Guide logo. Find out more about the Healthy Footwear Guide.

Discover more about Teresa’s journey in her own words, visit her website


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