Effortless Tips to Save Your Feet while Wearing Heels

Right from wearing it to workplace to brunches and parties, Carry Bradshaw from Sex and The City seemed to be at ease while tottering around the entire day in towering heels.

Not only Bradshaw, but many celebrities make heels look glamorous and super comfortable to be in day in and day out.  But reality doesn’t elude us.

Every woman knows that if you wear heels all the time, foot problems are bound to ensue.

Still a lot of you adopt the grin and bear it attitude when it comes to stylish heels. So, what do you do about it? Bear it or forget it altogether?

Well, here are some tips to help you stride in your heels without compromising on the comfort.

Let’s get you some tips to protect your feet while wearing heels

save feet while wearing heels

Right Size

Women’s visits to the doctor for foot and toe complaints shot up 75% between 2005 and 2009, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

The AAOS reports that more than 7 out of 10 women have developed a painful foot deformity, while 9 out of 10 women’s foot deformities can be attributed to ill-fitting shoes.

Experts at AAOS caution that bad footwear choices not only cause problems to foot, but extend all the way up to the legs and into the spine.

So, next time when you go shoe shopping, always go for the ones that fit you right. Your toes should have space for them to move inside the shoes.

If you are opting for a pointed heel, make sure that the point is coming after the toes or else your toes will end up getting squished, resulting in hammertoe.

Also, the heels should not make your feet slide forward, leaving a gap behind your heel as this will put pressure and pain on your toes.

Hammertoe is a condition where toes are permanently bent downwards. It usually happens to the second, third, fourth or fifth toes. They are caused mostly by ill-fitting shoes.

If shoes are too tight, pointy, pushy, short, they push the toes out of balance and put pressure on them. They usually begin as mild deformities and get worse with time.

For Newbies 

If you are new to wearing heels, start with shorter heels first before trying out the 5-inch stilettos. Get used to wearing heels first and then gradually climb the ladder to higher heels. This will be easier on your foot.

Avoid Thin High Heels

Avoid thin high heels, especially stilettos.

A study conducted by Iowa State University in 2010 notes that wearing heels, especially those two inches and higher, alters body posture by changing joint positions at the ankle, knee, hip, and trunk.

This can create strain on the lower back and can lead to the discs in your spine breaking down, muscle spasms and pain throughout the body.

Prolonged use of high heels can contribute to joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis. This condition is more prevalent in women than in men, notes a study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research in 2015.

Osteoarthritis is a condition where cartilage in joints breakdown. Cartilage is a firm, rubbery material that covers the ends of bones in normal joints.

It reduces friction in the joints and serves as a shock absorber. Osteoarthritis causes stiffness in the cartilage which makes it lose its elasticity. This makes it susceptible to damage.

High heels are said to cause slips and trips, ankle sprains, back pain etc.

An estimated 123,355 high-heel–related injuries were treated in emergency departments within the United States from 2002 to 2012.

A study published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery in 2015 states that the amount of injuries doubled during this 11 year period.

Go for a thicker heel as far as possible. It will provide better balance and will relieve some pressure while distributing the weight on your foot more evenly.

Wear Open-toe Heels

Wearing open-toe heels will relieve pressure on corns and calluses. Calluses and corns are rough, hard and painful patches that accumulate on areas where more pressure is exerted.

Most of the times, they occur on the ball of the feet. If you try to push them, they won’t move, they remain there as a hard lump.

They can make walking in closed shoes or heels painful. If you have them, get them removed by a doctor. Open-toe-heels take the pressure off the inflamed area.

wear open-toe heels

Slope of the Heel

Look for heels that have a gradual slope instead of the ones with straight drop down slopes to the flat portion of the heel.

Stilettos have a straight drop down slope which puts pressure on the ball of the feet, while wedges have a more gradual slope that helps in reducing strain in the arch and heel.

It distributes the weight of the whole body all along the foot. This will be easier on the arch of your foot and will help to relive some pain in the ball of your foot.

Regularly wearing high heels can cause muscle and tendon changes in your legs. After prolonged use of high heels, wearing flats or flip-flops can be painful.

A study conducted by The Company of Biologists in 2010 states wearing two-inch heels (or higher) five or more days a week shrinks your calf muscle fibers and thickens your Achilles tendon.

Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to your heel bone and is used to walk, run and jump. If the tendon thickens, it causes pain along the back of your leg near the heel.

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Climbing stairs, running, sitting for a longer periods can cause pain.

Heels with More Coverage on Top

Your heels should provide more coverage on the top of your feet. High-heeled boots or sandals with long ankle strap or big wide straps that go right up the top of your feet are quite comfortable.

Alternate Heel Heights

Keep changing them. Do not wear the same heel every single day. Researchers suggest that it’s healthy to mix up your footwear or alternate heel heights. Try kittens one day, stilettos the next, while platforms or wedges on other days. By alternating heel heights, you will be varying the pressure placed on your muscles and joints.

Don’t Go for Thin Soles

Thin soles will give you pain at the bottom of your foot. A thicker sole will help you take away some of the pressure while walking. Thick sole will absorb the pressure.

Do some Stretching Exercise

Stretching out your legs and feet in the morning will help you stretch your muscles. Yoga works great for this

  • Bend down and place your hands on the floor at some distance from your feet
  • Your bottom should be stretched up to the ceiling
  • You should basically form a triangular shape with the floor

Try this as well

  • Remove your footwear and stand barefeet
  • Slowly and gradually bend down and try to touch your toes
  • Your legs should be straight while you do this
  • Hold on for five seconds
  • Repeat three times

This is an effective way to strengthen your muscles and joints. You need to do this three or four times a week.

Soak

After a long and tiring day you spend in your heels, go barefoot and give your feet a little relaxation with foot soaks. Try the relaxation technique with Epsom salt.

Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulphate and essential oil that help our muscles to relax. When you soak your feet in water with Epsom salt, your body absorbs magnesium, which helps in repairing the tissues.

These salts help in relieving muscle pain and stiffness.

  • Take a tub of lukewarm water
  • Add half a cup of Epsom salt and few drops of any essential oil of your choice
  • Soak your feet the tub of water for about an hour
  • Do this twice or thrice a week

Those with dry skin should use less of Epsom salt. Even if you are using it, moisturize your feet with olive oil or any thick moisturizer after thoroughly drying your feet.

Put Shoes in Freezer to Stretch

If your heels are too tight for you, put a bag full of water in it and place the heels in the freezer. Place them overnight and remove them in the morning.

The bag might have turned into ice. As the water will turn into ice, the bag inside your heels will make the heels stretch. Break the bag out from the heels by using a knife.

Be careful while using a knife inside. Repeat this procedure the next night as well. Do not let the bag melt inside your heels when you remove them from the freezer. The water will spoil your heels.

Antiperspirant Spray

Sweating or moisture make your feet slip inside the shoes. This will make your skin rub against the wall of your shoes, causing blisters.

Blisters are small bubbles filled with fluid formed on the surface of the skin. So, keep your feet dry with a little antiperspirant spray.

Go Shoe Shopping at Night

Always go shoe-shopping towards late in the afternoon or early in the evening. Feet tend to swell during the day and are at their largest during late afternoon.

You might have noticed that a shoe that fits well in the morning starts to become tight during afternoon.

Try Both Shoes on Before Buying One

You might have noticed that your one foot is larger than the other. This applies for most people.

So, you should always buy shoes depending on how well they fit your larger foot.

For this, you need to try both shoes on. Also, walk around a little in them before buying to see whether they are comfortable or not.

Elevation Test to Check Right Heel Height

Wear your heels. Try lifting yourself out of your heels. If you can lift yourself to about an inch or so, then they are the right size for you.

But, if you are unable to do so, then probably the heel height is too high for you.

Now that you are done with all the selection, testing and shopping part, don’t forget the last and most important aspect to be careful about.

Walking in Heels

When you are in high heels, try to walk the same way you would in flats.

Keep your head and spine straight. Place your heel first, then your toes or balls of your feet. This transfers the impact to the legs instead of the balls of your feet. Get used to the feeling first.

Just like any other new skill, walking in high heel requires patience, practice and perseverance.

Resources:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons – Foot deformities

Iowa State University – High heels may lead to joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis study

Journal of Orthopaedic Research – Effects of high heel wear and increased weight on the knee during walking

Physioadvance – Heels & Pain

The Company of Biologists – Why walking flat-footed hurts habitual high-heels wearers: The effects of wearing high heels on women’s legs

Dailymail – How to… Cure a high heel hangover

Lifehacker – Stretch Tight Shoes with a Baggie of Water in the Freezer

IndiaParenting – A Guide to Buying Shoes

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