High Heel Health

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“If they hurt, they must be cute,” is not a motto to live by. Let’s set the scene. It might be a birthday, bachelorette party or the time to celebrate a big win at work. Along with some friends, the group decides to hit the town tonight. Hair? Check. Nails? Check. Makeup? On point. Now for shoes. Option 1 - The comfortable more sensible pair. While not as cute, they have a track record of guaranteeing you’ll make it through the night without having to rest your feet. Option 2 - The hot new strappy pair that has been sitting in the box, waiting for the perfect opportunity to shine. Is that even a question? The never-before-worn four-inch heels get to celebrate tonight too, but by the time the group takes tons of pictures, calls an Uber and makes it downtown, your feet are killing you. Don’t let this happen. It’s a guaranteed mood killer, but what’s a girl to do?

Before we get there here’s a quick history lesson on how heels came to be a staple in women’s fashion, from the runway to the office and the dance floor. 

Heels were originally worn by men so they could stand taller, which represented power. Fast forward a bit as they started to evolve into footwear for women and of course a sexualized fashion item. They change the wearer’s walk and posture, causing the appearance of a bigger butt. Along with this, the higher the heel, the more difficult it is to walk in, and thus, the more confident the strut. Nothing has changed as the powerful still wear heels. 

So of course, they hurt, but is there any real danger in wearing these elevated shoes?  

Pressure on your feet, tendon damage, curled toes and more can result from wearing high heels. Dr. Lisa Masterson breaks it all down here:

Sajid A. Surve, DO, explains that wearing heels basically causes your muscles and joints to not be aligned as they should be. Wearing heels often can lead to back, shoulder and neck pain. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society also warns that heels put pressure on the balls of the feet, which can ultimately lead to a stress fracture. Ouch! On top of that, you’re at risk for deformities such as bunions and hammer toes and sprained ankles.

Now that there is an understanding of the damage these shoes are doing, where do we go from here? Don’t worry. We’re thrilled to share there are alternatives to making your footwear comfortable. 

The most obvious alternative would be to wear flats. In a dark bar or sitting at your desk, no one will realize what is on anyone’s feet. Check out the benefits The Spine Health Institute shares when it comes to wearing flats.

If heels are a must for the occasion, there are a few things to do that can help ease any pain and uncomfortableness.

Make sure your shoes are the right size. Going up or down just a half size or getting a wider pair can completely change the feel. Remember, not every shoe is the same size from brand to brand. Usually a size 8? If they feel a bit snug, try the 8.5. Cramming your foot into a tight space will squeeze your toes and result in discomfort.

As tempting as the dainty, paper-thin heeled shoes are, they are not ideal for a night on the dance floor. Consider a lower or wider, chunkier heel option, shoes encasing the ankle for ankle support or even wedges to provide more support for your arch. Open toed shoes also give your little piggies room to breathe. Your feet will thank you later.

Make a quick stop at the drugstore before to purchase insoles or other shoe pads. This will add extra padding and help avoid slipping and sliding of a sweaty foot.

Once you make it home safely, a quick massage and stretching session will help ease tension. Try some calf stretches, ankle rotations, and toe points and flexes. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society suggests working on your leg strength for balance control, and even practicing walking in heels to help find the right pain-free strut.

What did we learn today? While heels are tempting, they have a negative impact on the wearer’s health. It is perfectly fine to wear them every once in a while. They boost confidence and look cute, but foot deformities and a broken ankle do not. The next time you’re headed out, standing in the mirror with two shoe options, remember this article. Don’t let foot pain ruin a night.