Carrie Bradshaw of the TV series “Sex and The City” wore sky high high heels with confidence, making them look like they could be somehow be comfortable. The popularity of high heels shows no signs of slowing down. The average American woman owns 24 pairs of shoes and is about to add more, according to Charla Krupp, executive editor of Shop Etc. and sales are going up. Since women aren’t going to give up purchasing and wearing heels, let’s go over how to at least make them more comfortable and less damaging to the body.
First, the painful truth about the effects of wearing heels. WebMD lays out some of the most common problems that can result from wearing high heels, according to Hillary Brenner, DPM, spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association:
Pump Bump – Wearing high heeled shoes can cause a painful knot on the back of the heel. The pressure leads to blisters, swelling, bursitis, even pain in the Achilles tendon. While ice, orthotics, and heel pads may provide pain relief …along with better shoes, the bony protrusion is permanent.
Unnatural Foot Position - Ultra-high heels force the feet into a position that puts stress on the ball of the foot. At this critical joint, the long metatarsal bones meet the pea-shaped sesamoid bones, and the toe bones (phalanges). Too much pressure can inflame these bones or the nerves that surround them. Chronic stress to the foot bones can even lead to hairline fractures. Wearing lower-heel shoes prevents this problem by putting your foot in a more natural position.
Ankle Sprains – All elevated shoes increase the risk of an ankle sprain when losing balance. The most common injury is a lateral sprain from rolling onto the outside of your foot. This stretches the ankle ligaments of your foot which can result in a tear. A sprained ankle has to be immobilized followed by physical therapy. It also increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Pointy toes – They are stylish, but pointy toe shoes put the squeeze on the front of your foot resulting in nerve pain, bunions, blisters and hammertoes.
Dr. Brenner advises women to:
- Wear chunky heels that provide more stability and balance
- Choose a shoe with a wide toe box to avoid squishing
- Avoid going higher than a 2-inch heel
- Make sure there is adequate arch support
- Wear the right size shoes, having a professional measure the length and width of your feet, while standing, at the end of the day when feet are likely at their most swollen
eHow Mom offers these suggestions as well:
- Vary the shoes that you wear throughout the week
- Add insoles for extra padding
- Stand up straight to keep your body aligned especially while in heels
And finally, Krupp, from Shop Etc., provides the list of countdown of the five things to know when shopping for heels:
5. Go for padding. As we age, we lose padding in the ball of the foot where we can carry up to seven times our body weight. So press your thumb along the ball of the foot area and the arch. If your thumb springs back, there’s good padding.
4. Choose rounded toes over pointy toes; wedges over stilettos.
3. Walk on a hard floor. Step off the carpet while you’re in the shoe department. Every shoe feels better on carpet!
2. Don’t scrimp on shoes — scrimp on a blouse or jewelry instead. Comfy shoes can cost more because of the extra padding and technology.
1. And the #1 lie about shoes: “You have to break them in.” Your foot shouldn’t have to mold itself to the shoe, but vice versa.
At Dardano’s, we couldn’t agree more with all of those suggestions and advice. We’d also like to add one more suggestion: Removing even a little bit of height from a high heeled shoe can make a big difference in comfort and foot health. Dardano’s offers Heel Height Adjustments that won’t change the look of your shoe but will make a difference in whether that pair of shoes becomes a comfortable favorite or gets relegated to the back of your closet!