Podiatrist Sandra Kontos speaks to Sole Bliss
We sat down to chat to podiatrist, Sandra Kontos M.CH.S D.POD.M, about all things feet and bunion-related! Working across two clinics in London, one in fancy Sloane Square and another in leafy Hadley Wood, Sandra treats the feet of the UK’s elite – businesswomen, celebrities and politicians alike! Read on as Sandra answers all your questions…
Q: Tell us a little bit about you. How many years have you been in the foot industry?
A: I trained for three years to be what was then called a chiropodist, at the London Foot Hospital & School of Chiropody, in Fitzroy Square in London. It was affiliated with UCH and UCL, so as students we took NHS patients into our clinics. We had the top lecturers from UCL lecturing us on all the medical subjects, so it was like a mini medical course for the feet! After those three years I went to work for Camden and Islington Health Authority, and I worked there for 17 years and became the manager of the podiatry service. I left the Health Service in November 1997, and then came to work part-time in private practice in Chelsea. As my children got older I worked more and more, and now today I’m back to my full-time practice – mainly in Sloane Square and a little bit in Hadley Wood. I do a lot of home visits – going to patients when they can’t get to me.
Carmen Shoe in Taupe Suede
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: It totally depends which day of the week it is! If it’s a Sloane Square day then it’s usually full on from 9/9.30 to 4.30/5. This is mainly full consultations/treatments with a few redressings. If it’s a day local to where I live, it might be a little bit of clinical work in Hadley Wood Health Care, and then out in the car on the road doing home visits – which are always interesting! If it’s a new patient, you don’t always know what you’re going to find… My work takes to me to areas all around where I live and Central London too, so it’s a busy old life!
Q: What’s the most common complaint people have with their feet?
A: Probably corns and callous (hard skin). Nail problems, too – many people can’t reach their feet or if they can, can’t deal with them. There are many foot pathologies, some very complex.
Q: So you’ve got a special tool-kit for feet?
A: Yes, I do have my instruments! Some of them are very sharp!
Q: Do you see lots of patients with bunions?
A: I do. As I said, there are many presenting foot pathologies. Amongst those are what’s commonly known as bunions – the medical name for which is hallux valgus or hallux abducto valgus. Yes, I do see a lot of people with them – some don’t have any pain and don’t want their condition treated, and others are seeking help and advice because they can’t go on with the pain any longer.
Q: How do you get a bunion?
A: Usually you are predisposed through an inherited tendency like with many other medical conditions. If you superimpose poor footwear then there could be a problem. Most people think it’s just because they’ve worn the wrong shoes. If they have, it probably contributed, but usually it’s a combination of contributing factors. Many older patients will say, “Oh, it must have been my winkle-pickers!” Well, the winkle-pickers certainly didn’t help! But if you delve back into family history, there’s probably a history of bunions along the line.
Q: People always say “If you’ve got bunions, you shouldn’t wear heels.” Is that true?
A: I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. There are heels, and then there are heels! It depends on the heel height, what you’re intending to do in your heels and for how long you’re going to wear them. But it’s definitely not a no-no!
Q: Recently in Good Housekeeping a physiotherapist said that for women, wearing varying heel heights is actually good for your calf muscles. Having your calf muscles shortened all the time if you always wear heels, or having them extended all the time if you only wear flats isn’t always good. You need variety! It this true?
A: I think that is very true actually. If you’re in heels all the time, certainly your Achilles tendon at the back of your calf can become shortened. I have a friend who wears very high heels all the time, and she now finds that she’s not able to wear flats at all. I do agree with that – it is good to vary heel heights.
Q: You have a pair of Sole Bliss shoes (Alessia in Black & White Snake Print), what do you like about them?
A: I love them! I absolutely love them. I love the look of them. I’ve never been able to actually keep a sling back on my foot before Sole Bliss, so it was an ideal opportunity to test the fit of the shoe. I like the fact that there’s more depth to them. My feet aren’t that bad because I’m post-bunion surgery, but the shoes are really great because they’re so comfortable and they just look so good.
Q: The current collection of Sole Bliss shoes have pointy toes, and some ladies say they have heard they should avoid pointed shoes if they have a bunion.
A: It depends on the shape of your foot generally. If you look at the shape of a foot with a bunion there’s often a natural ‘point’ anyway. Along with the bunion itself comes all the lesser toe deformities – toes can be squashed together causing hammer toes to form, often then with corns on these toes. Sole Bliss shoes provide a lot of depth at the front, so I would recommend that you try them and see for yourself!
Q: Would you recommend them to your patients?
A: I definitely would! In the two practices where I work I see some very smart women who come in feeling frustrated that they can’t find elegant shoes for business wear or special occasions or just to be comfortable. I think the Sole Bliss range of can solve a lot of those issues. It’s hard to please all people all of the time but if you’re helping the majority of people some of the time that’s an achievement. As a podiatrist, I would absolutely recommend them.